Friday, May 06, 2011

Audit of TARTA Reveals Misspent Public Money

Congrats to Waterville Mayor Derek Merrin who learned of this and challenged the practice of a public agency 'loaning' tax dollars to fund a campaign for a levy. Now the money must be repaid, either by the campaign committee or personally by TARTA Director James Gee.

Press Release:

Columbus - The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) illegally lent Citizens for TARTA $66,885 in public money to pay for levy campaign costs, according to the audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

“Taxpayers expect their dollars to pay for public services, not to influence a political campaign,” Auditor Yost said. “The taxpayers’ money must be repaid by Citizens for TARTA.”

Citizens for TARTA is a political action committee that formed to help gather resources to fund TARTA levy campaigns. In 2007, Citizens for TARTA borrowed $13,885, without interest, from TARTA. Another $53,000 was borrowed in January 2008.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, Section 9.03, “no governing body of a political subdivision shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a levy or bond issue.”

The violation of the Ohio Revised Code prompted the issuing of findings for recovery in the total amount of $66,885 against Citizens for TARTA, in favor of TARTA. Under Ohio law, in the event the payment from Citizens for TARTA is not received, TARTA’s Director, James Gee, is held jointly and severally liable for the findings for recovery.

No repayments have been received from Citizens for TARTA.

A full copy of this audit is available online.


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