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November 21, 2008

Governor Strickand Defends Mere Suspension of Jones-Kelley as "Appropriate"

She made a "mistake," you see.

Should Gov. Ted Strickland fire the state agency director who authorized an improper search of private records?

An inspector general report found Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Sservices Director Helen Jones-Kelley authorized an improper search of confidential records of Joe the Plumber -- the Ohio resident turned political celebrity. Strickland suspended the director without pay for four weeks, but Republicans are calling for her firing.

Jones-Kelley serves at the discretion of the governor, and according to state policy:

"using resources to violate or attempt to circumvent confidentiality procedures is strictly prohibited." Doing so "may be cause for termination."

Jones-Kelley said in a written statement through her attorney that her only intent in authorizing the information searches was to fulfill the agency's fiduciary responsibilities to Ohio's families.

But Friday, Strickland gave his reasoning for not firing Jones-Kelley, saying she made a mistake, and the punishment he settled on was appropriate.

"I felt one month without pay, which will deprive her of nearly $12,000, was a pretty severe sanction," Strickland said. "But I did not feel this good person who has served the public admirably for so many years should be tossed aside because she made a mistake."

Two other workers, who also made "mistakes" in digging up dirt on a political rival, were similarly given slaps on the wrist.

Deputy Director Doug Thompson got a four week unpaid suspension; Assistant Director Fred Williams a two week suspension.

Thanks to William A.

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posted by Ace at 07:09 PM

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