Who Has Jurisdiction Over Ohio's Lawsuit Against ECOT?

Jul 6, 2018

Democrats have been blasting Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine for not doing more about the multi-million-dollar ECOT scandal. But Republicans are pushing back.

A report from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost found the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio’s once-largest online charter school that closed in January, submitted fraudulent student data to the state. Yost turned those findings over to federal prosecutors and Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien, also a Republican.

Yost, a former prosecutor running for attorney general, said that’s because prosecutions happen locally.

“So when Attorney General DeWine says he has no jurisdiction, he's just stating what is a well-known legal fact and frankly shame on the people that are on the other side that know better," Yost said.

But state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), a former Summit County magistrate, disagrees.

“Ohio law gives the Attorney General broad powers for bringing criminal charges against entities that misuse public funds,” Galonski said.

Yost sought to formally get involved in the ECOT legal case after preserving computer data from the school. In June, a judge denied Yost's request, concluding that his office didn't provide sufficient basis for intervening.

Democrats criticized Yost for the move, calling it a conflict of interest. Yost previously spoke at an ECOT graduation and received campaign contributions from founder Bill Lager, which he later donated. Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Dettelbach said Yost had a conflict of interest and should recuse himself.

Galonski asked DeWine to appoint a special prosecutor to look into criminal charges regarding ECOT. DeWine has appointed outside counsel to handle the ECOT case. Earlier this week, DeWine filed an argument in court that ECOT’s dealings with contractors constitute a pattern of corrupt activity.

Liberal activists from the group Innovation Ohio rallied outside of DeWine’s office on Monday calling for an investigation. DeWine was among the politicians who donated money received from Lager over the years, along with several Republicans and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray.