Making Democracy Work

Responses to Questions - Auditor

CANDIDATE ZACH SPACE

Responses are printed exactly as received

Candidate: ZACH SPACE

Political Party: Democrat
Website: http://www.zackspaceforohio.com
Occupation: Consultant
Education: Kenyon College, B.A. Political Science; Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, J.D.

Training and Experience:
Practicing attorney, private practice and public defense, 1986-2006; Law Director, City of Dover, OH, 2001-2006; United States Congressman, Ohio's 18th District, 2007-2011

What recommendations do you have to improve operations in the auditor's office?
I intend to sufficiently fulfill all traditional responsibilities of the Auditor's office. The Auditor's office can focus on materiality and risk-based audits, conducting basic audits and agreed upon procedures where appropriate. I will also recruit a diverse and qualified staff, who represents all of Ohio and understands our local communities, to help accomplish these goals.
I believe I can add tremendous value to the Auditor's office by making it far more dynamic. Performance audits, for instance, allow the Auditor to make holistic observations about public entities and make thorough recommendations for improvement.

What would you do to ensure that public funds are not misused by government officials and those in a position of public trust?
I commend Auditor Yost for creating the Public Integrity Assurance Team ("PIAT"). The PIAT is well known for investigating theft of public dollars. Just as important, if not more so, are PIAT's trainings for local government officials on fraud prevention and combating cybercrime. I will continue to investigate those suspected of stealing public money and expand the training program, so our local governments have the tools they need to avoid becoming victims of crime.

What is the auditor's role in the oversight of online and brick-and-mortar community schools?
The Auditor of State has the authority to audit any entity that uses public monies, including educational institutions. The Auditor must hold online schools and traditional community schools to the same standards. This oversight responsibility has lapsed significantly in recent years, as for-profit online charter schools such as the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow have scammed taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars by tampering with attendance records.
I find it wholly unacceptable that the management firms who operate such for-profit schools could receive millions of dollars that would otherwise have gone to public education, without any transparency or oversight whatsoever. As these firms are taking public monies, they could -- and would -- be declared "unauditable" under my administration, and public funding would then stop.
Any entity that receives public money must justify its actions and verify that it is not being wasteful. This is especially true for schools.

How will you faithfully execute redistricting reforms overwhelmingly passed by voters for statehouse and congressional map making?
If elected Auditor, I will serve on the Redistricting Commission. I have pledged to wield that power not on behalf of the Democratic or Republican Party, but on behalf of ordinary Ohioans, who have been shut out of that partisan process for over a generation. Members of the Redistricting Commission have a duty to the people of Ohio to only approve legislative (and possibly Congressional) districts that are fair and competitive. In furtherance of this goal, I pledge that I will ensure the Redistricting Commission complies with the Open Meetings Act, bringing a new level of transparency to proceedings.
Robust public debate on the best way to combat gerrymandering is still underway, and given the Supreme Court's expected landmark ruling on gerrymandering cases this summer it may be too soon to declare explicit tools (such as the efficiency gap) that will be useful in preventing gerrymandering.
I believe that drawing competitive districts should be the Commission's top priority.



CANDIDATE KEITH FABER

Responses are printed exactly as received

Candidate: KEITH FABER

Political Party: Republican
Website: http://www.keithfaber.org
Occupation: Attorney
Education: Oakland University (BA); THE Ohio State University (JD)

Training and Experience:
My career as an attorney handling complex financial matters coupled with my years in the state legislature, including a term as President of the Ohio Senate, have equipped me with the tools necessary to be Auditor. I know how state government operates and where to look to find efficiencies.

What recommendations do you have to improve operations in the auditor's office?
My entire legislative career has focused on making state government more efficient, effective, and transparent. I was a part of the Senate leadership that worked with Governor Kasich to cut taxes by almost $5 billion. I drafted the Common Sense Initiative that has dramatically reduced new regulations. I worked on balancing a budget that started with an $8 billion deficit and turned it into a $2 billion surplus and that has taken our rainy day fund from $0.89 to $2.7 Billion. Ohio is doing better but better is still not good enough.
I'm running for Auditor now because it is the one office responsible for oversight in state government and protecting the taxpayers. An Auditor that wants to see government work quicker, better, and cheaper for the taxpayers has tremendous power to whip government into shape. That is what I plan to do.

What would you do to ensure that public funds are not misused by government officials and those in a position of public trust?
The Auditor is the State's "Chief Compliance Officer," meaning he is responsible for holding government officials accountable when they lie, cheat, or steal. For public officials that abuse the public trust, I will make sure they are sent to prison - where they belong. The Auditor's fiscal audits have done an excellent job of catching waste, fraud, and abuse. I will continue those practices, ensuring that those who seek to betray the public trust are punished and those who need better training get the training they need to serve the public well.

What is the auditor's role in the oversight of online and brick-and-mortar community schools?
Every public school in Ohio, traditional, charter, brick and mortar, and online, is already audited by the Auditor of State in accordance with the standards put forth by the Department of Education. I will use this authority to ensure that ALL public schools are complying with state law and that children are receiving a quality education that sets them on a path to success. As Senate President I fought for and passed stricter charter school accountability and as a state representative I have fought for reforms that would allow the Auditor and the Ohio Department of Education to receive real time access to participation data and other factors that are related to funding for online schools.
An issue that has been raised by online schools is how to measure if children are actually receiving a quality education. I have advocated for a system of school funding that awards monies based on performance. This system would help ensure that every child in Ohio is receiving a quality education.

How will you faithfully execute redistricting reforms overwhelmingly passed by voters for statehouse and congressional map making?
Contorted legislative lines that divide communities and stretch hundreds of miles across our state, in an effort to achieve politically driven ends, are a bad practice. As Auditor, I will oppose such attempts. I will uphold the law and seek to keep communities together and districts compact.
As President of the Ohio Senate, I was proud to help draft on the redistricting reform of state legislative lines that the voters ultimately approved with over 70% of the vote. And as a state representative I was proud to vote in favor of the recent Congressional redistricting reform that voters approved with over 70% of the vote. I will follow the constitution and have legislative and congressional districts where the voters can be represented by people who share their values.



CANDIDATE ROBERT C. COOGAN

Responses are printed exactly as received

Candidate: ROBERT C. COOGAN

Political Party: Libertarian
Website: http://www.coogan4liberty.org
Occupation: Accountant - semi-retired
Education: Princeton University + 1969 to 1973 + Bachelor's degree; Xavier University + 1973 to 1978 + Master of Business Administration

Training and Experience:
CPA-Ohio, Certified Internal Auditor (inactive), Retired from Cincinnati Bell - served as VP-Accounting at Cincinnati Bell Telephone and VP-Internal Audit at Cincinnati Bell Inc, Retired from The Health Collaborative - Director-Grant Accounting

What recommendations do you have to improve operations in the auditor's office?
My non-partisan approach as the Auditor of State will bring independence and objectivity to the analysis of risks to Ohio taxpayer dollars and the prioritization of audit resources. Decisions regarding entities/areas to audit will be free of conflicts of interest.
Financial Audits + I will focus resources on the entities that are most in need of help from the expertise of the audit staff. I will ensure that the most cost effective and efficient use is being made of Independent Auditor firms in the financial audit process.
Performance Audits + I will continue the practice of performance audit engagements. I will continuously evaluate the areas of focus for these audits in order provide the most operational improvement savings for taxpayers.
I will ensure that the auditing software in place is the most appropriate and current for cybersecurity, financial and performance audits.

What would you do to ensure that public funds are not misused by government officials and those in a position of public trust?
The assurance of appropriate expenditures of public funds by individuals will be incorporated into all audits, as is done in audits of private companies. All audits will include an internal controls assessment, which includes assures proper authorization and recording of expenditures, documentation of the appropriateness of the expenditure for the individual and position, and the review and disclosure of any external funding sources or gifts. A comparison of expenditures to the detail of an approved budget will highlight unusual, extraordinary or unplanned items. An analysis of these exception items is a means to uncover fraud and the misuse of funds. Scrutiny of non-healthcare benefits and perks can also reveal abuses and fraud by officials in charge of public funds.

What is the auditor's role in the oversight of online and brick-and-mortar community schools?
The Auditor of State has a critical role in the oversight of community schools. This monitoring of the granting of public funds for a specific purpose (education) parallels the close examination by government and other funding organizations of the use of their funds. All grants that I have managed have required that the recipient of the funds allow complete and open access to auditing how the funds are used. The Auditor's office must review and evaluate all aspects from the procedures to ensure fair admissions, validating the tracking and reporting results, confirming the achievement of performance criteria per statutes and contracts (e.g., attendance, instruction time), and examining the billing/documentation for accurate and proper invoicing/requests for funds expenditures.

How will you faithfully execute redistricting reforms overwhelmingly passed by voters for statehouse and congressional map making?
My non-partisan approach as the Auditor of State will bring independence and objectivity to redistricting process for Congressional and State legislative districts. I will apply the criteria defined in the constitutional amendment to achieve community-centric voting districts that are not based on historic partisan voting results and tendencies. Population and location information will be used to develop the district maps. Voting results data (e.g., precinct level results by party designation) will not be a criterion for determining the district boundaries, in order to eliminate gerrymandering and its impact on future election results. Legislators must not select their voters. The voters should select their legislators.