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Government/Politics

Ohio's lieutenant governor defends decision to add on private sector job

Jon Husted primary election night 050322 - CHOW.jpg
Andy Chow
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio) speaks to supporters after winning the primary election with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) on May 3, 2022.

Ohio’s Republican lieutenant governor is taking some heat for accepting an outside paid job on top of the work he’s already doing as the state’s second-in-command to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was elected by his fellow shareholders to the board of directors of Heartland Bank, which he described as a publicly-traded small business based in Ohio. The bank announced Husted's election to the new role at its annual meeting on May 17, two months after the actual shareholder vote.

Husted, who is also DeWine's running mate for re-election in November, said he'd thought about investing in a community bank and joining its board "for many years".

Husted, who works on workforce, technology and innovation, and regulatory issues as lieutenant governor, said those duties are only enhanced by what he’ll learn on this job.

“None of what I do in any way conflicts. I do not oversee banking. I don’t have any authority in that space. And it has no conflict of interest whatsoever. I believe it has great value," Husted said in a phone interview.

Husted said being on the board will help him understand how interest rates, inflation and government regulations affect small businesses and the economy.

“Understanding that and being involved in that has great value, I believe, for everyone to have public officials who truly understand these issues," Husted said.

Husted said there’s no set compensation, but he will disclose it.

Ohio's lieutenant governor has typically had a second position in state government — besides that primary position — going back to 1983 when Myrl Shoemaker was appointed by Gov. Richard Celeste to lead the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Former Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who served with former Gov. John Kasich, headed up the Ohio Department of Insurance. Lee Fisher, who was former Gov. Ted Strickland's lieutenant governor, directed the Ohio Department of Development. So did Bruce Johnson, who was ex-Gov. Bob Taft's lieutenant governor. He resigned just before his term ended to pursue private sector employment, and became the president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio.

It’s not illegal for an elected executive state official to take a private sector job, but it’s unclear if it’s happened before.

The CEO of Heartland Bank has donated more than $19,000 to Republican candidates since 2016.

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