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Ohio recovers millions from massive unemployment fraud: Capitol Letter

by Jun 10, 2022Local News

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ homepage has a place for people to report fraudulent unemployment claims under their names.

unemployment claims fraud

Rotunda Rumblings

Lost and found: The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services on Thursday announced it had recovered nearly $400 million in stolen unemployment benefits, Laura Hancock reports. The amount of unemployment dollars that fraudsters have stolen from the state is fluid, but as of March 31, it totaled $527 million.

Check and protect: Ohioans who were potential unemployment fraud victims in the spring received letters recently from a company that identifies itself as a state contractor, offering its services for free. The state would pay for a year of credit monitoring, Hancock reports.

Lanese leaving: State Rep. Laura Lanese, a former member of house GOP leadership, unexpectedly announced Wednesday she would not seek re-election. As Andrew Tobias writes, Lanese is among the dwindling number of moderate house Republicans, and she’s the last Republican in Franklin County’s House delegation. Her political retirement the way for David Dobos, a former Columbus school board president to face Democrat Russell Harris in the general election in November.

Jordan strikes back: As a congressional committee probing the January 6 riot launched its first day of public hearings, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan defied a demand that he comply by June 11 with a subpoena it issued to him, Sabrina Eaton writes. Jordan sent the committee’s chairman a letter that questioned the subpoena’s legitimacy and said the committee wants to improperly grill him about performance of his official duties. It said the subpoena lacks a “legitimate legislative purpose,” and asserted the committee seeks his testimony “for purposes of harassment, embarrassment, the self-aggrandizement of the Select Committee members,” and to “weaken[] my position in the future.”

Breaking China: Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose campaign ads for U.S. Senate highlight his opinion that “it’s us vs. China,” on Thursday responded to reports that the administration of President Joe Biden administration is considering reducing tariffs on Chinese goods by sending Biden a letter urging that they be retained. “Tariff reduction would only serve to embolden an already aggressive Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to further undermine U.S. interests,” wrote Ryan. “We should not reward this behavior by ending these tariffs imposed on them nor should we signal to the world that cheating our trade laws will be tolerated.”

Flare-up: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine also wrote a similar letter to Biden in defense of First Solar, the Ohio based manufacturer that supports the tariffs. “I think your administration’s decision this week to ban new tariffs for two years on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a mistake. This decision will benefit these Southeast Asian nations at the expense of U.S. solar panel production,” DeWine said.

Their best shot: Lame-duck Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River was among five Republicans who joined U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Wednesday in approving a gun control bill that’s not expected to fly in the U.S. Senate. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is trying to find a compromise that would pass both houses of Congress. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, told reporters he hopes the negotiators will come up with “common sense ideas that can actually get done.” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, told reporters he hopes the Senate will be able to “do some major things… There’s no reason an 18-year-old or a 19-year-old should be able to get an assault weapon… there should be a waiting period, there should be background checks, there should be red flag laws and the age for any of these weapons should be raised to at least 21.”

Water works: Legislation adopted Wednesday by the House of Representatives would urge the U.S. Army Corps Engineers to work on removal of the obsolete Gorge Dam along the Cuyahoga River in Summit County and would increase the amount the federal government will pay for an Illinois project intended to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, according to Ryan and U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, a Warrensville Heights Democrat. U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, a Holmes County Republican, said the legislation contains $10 million he secured to address water quality and algal bloom issues in several shallow Ohio lakes.

Airport money: Airports in Northeast Ohio are getting more than $4 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to help with repairs, Sen. Brown announced Thursday. $3.4 million will be used to improve the taxiways and rehabilitate the terminal building at Akron Canton Regional Airport. Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority will get more than $118,530 for a variety of airport improvements, and Kent State University will get $150,000 to rehabilitate its airport runway.

Bad collab? Two watchdog groups filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, alleging that Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance and the Protect Ohio Values super PAC, funded by tech billionaire Peter Theil, illegally coordinated during this year’s primary election. The super PAC had polling, research, messaging proposals and other information that it shared with the Vance campaign through a little-known website. The groups behind the complaint say Vance was able to use the information to clinch Donald Trump’s endorsement and win the primary, the Daily Beast’s Rober Sollenberger reports. In a comment to the Columbus Dispatch, POV director Luke Thompson called the complaint a “pathetic fundraising ploy.”

Fired up: Former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley was featured in a Wednesday Daily Beast story as an example of how gun-control Democratic governor candidates nationwide might try to use pro-gun control arguments in their campaigns this year. The story noted the mass shooting in Dayton in 2019, while Whaley was mayor, and quoted Whaley bashing DeWine for recently signing bills into law loosening gun restrictions in Ohio.

Know your redistricting lawsuit: The Ohio ACLU, the lawyers for one of the three sets of groups suing over Ohio’s state legislative maps, has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to order Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to appear in court to explain why they ignored a recent court deadline to approve a new state legislative map earlier this month. In the filing, the ACLU shared letters two commission members, Republican Rep. Jeff LaRe and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, wrote arguing the court had no legal authority to force the redistricting commission to approve a map plan this year, now that maps have been set for the 2022 election cycle. “Although the lawlessness of the Commission members may be grounded in some, farfetched, substantive thought, they have never shared that thought with this Court or with Petitioners,” the filing reads. Lawyers for an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative made similar arguments in filing earlier this week.

Know your redistricting lawsuit part 2: A lawyer for Secretary of State Frank LaRose asked a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss a would-be Republican candidate’s federal lawsuit seeking to get onto the ballot for the Aug. 2 state legislative primary. Mark Wagoner, a former GOP state lawmaker who’s working as LaRose’s attorney, said that the federal court that ordered the map for the Aug. 2 primary intentionally did so while leaving candidate filing and other election-related dates untouched. Changing the dates now, opening the door for additional candidates, would create logistical challenges for elections workers, the filing says.

Clicking around: Nationwide Children’s Hospital removed a link on its website to the trans and nonbinary wellness group Mozaic, since the group’s site has a link leading to a page that sells adult toys and movies. This comes after a committee hearing last week when state Rep. Gary Click, a Sandusky County Republican, claimed that Nationwide Children’s Hospital was a few clicks away from hardcore pornography, the Dispatch’s Abby Bammerlin reports. Click made the claims during a discussion about a bill that would prohibit transgender kids from receiving gender-affirming care until they are adults, even if their parents are OK with the treatment.

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