Ethics breach clear

Would that government officials were as conscientious about ethics as they seem to be inventive about trying to skirt the rules.

Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer’s office reported last week that about 40 state employees and some legislators accepted a free charter boat fishing trip on Lake Erie in 2018. Among offenders was former state Department of Natural Resources director James Zehringer.

Charter boat trips such as the one accepted normally cost up to $150. In addition, the DNR held a reception at Geneva State Park prior to the event, paid for lodging for several employees and furnished box lunches for the junket.

Such outings are not uncommon for state or federal government leaders. But that doesn’t mean it is right for the entities or individuals who offer them to do so, and it certainly doesn’t make it OK for officials to accept them.

Just ask former congressman Bob Ney. Many residents of the local area know the former Republican lawmaker well.

A well-known political leader who worked for election reform and backed the “Stand Up for Steel” crusade, Ney ultimately resigned his post and served time in a federal prison. This came after he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in connection with the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. As part of the controversy, it was revealed that Ney and his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, accepted lavish gifts.

In Ohio, state employees and lawmakers are prohibited from accepting gifts of substantial value. In the case of the Lake Erie junket, some argued that the charter trip actually was a donation to the DNR, not them.

That excuse smells worse than a pile of week-old walleye.

All involved ought to be punished, and not just with slaps on the wrist.

They knew what they were doing was wrong. There have been plenty of examples to set them straight.


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