On Second Anniversary of Chartergate, Ohio Democrats Call for Yost to Return ECOT Contributions

Yost Backed Off Investigating Chartergate, Dropped Ball On Investigating Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow

COLUMBUS — On the two-year anniversary of the resignation of the Kasich administration’s charter school czar, David Hansen, Ohio Democrats today noted “Chartergate” has still never been investigated — including by Auditor Dave Yost — and called on Yost to return contributions from William Lager, the founder of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT).

“Two years after Chartergate began, there has been no independent investigation, and none of the individuals involved has ever been held accountable,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Republicans on the state Board of Education blocked a call for an outside investigation. Ohio’s inspector general declined to investigate. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien declined to investigate. And finally, Auditor Dave Yost looked into the matter and found the department was ‘non-compliant,’ but took no action against Hansen or other administration officials. Bottom line, every Ohio Republican official that bears a responsibility to get to the bottom of this scandal abdicated that responsibility and turned the other way. Meanwhile, the entire Ohio Republican establishment is awash in ECOT money.

“As auditor, Dave Yost has shown a pattern of either incompetence or letting political considerations get in the way of doing the right thing. He failed to investigate Chartergate. He dropped the ball on investigating ECOT. He honored ECOT with an award. Yost needs to recuse himself from any investigation of ECOT, and he needs to give back every penny in campaign contributions that he took from Bill Lager or anyone associated with ECOT or its affiliated entities.”

On July 17, 2015 — one day before Hansen stepped down — Yost came out and said he saw “concerning similarities” between Chartergate and the Columbus City Schools data-rigging scandal. He said, “You don’t get to pick and choose the laws you obey.” The auditor’s office started looking into the situation.

By the end of the month, Yost had changed his tune — there would be no audit or special investigation of Chartergate by his office. Yost said, “All the facts are out in the open here.” He declined to have his office undertake a special audit — even though he acknowledged his office could do so, just as they did with Columbus City Schools.

The Columbus Dispatch editorial board noted that Yost was “surprisingly incurious about the attempted data-rigging at the education department.”

So what changed between the middle of July and the end of July?

Dave Yost endorsed John Kasich for president.