LIMA — When Bob Cupp joined the Ohio Auditor’s Office in February, Auditor Dave Yost praised the former Ohio Supreme Court justice who calls Lima home.
“Justice Cupp could have gone anywhere. I am grateful that he is willing to join our team working for skinny, accountable governments,” Yost said in a statement at the time.
The public didn’t know at the time that keeping governments accountable included the nonprofit JobsOhio Gov. John Kasich created to take over economic development duties for the state.
Cupp is the Auditor’s Office chief legal counsel for the office and also oversees investigators for the auditor’s office. That means he is deeply involved in Yost’s subpoena of JobsOhio’s financial books and a looming showdown between Yost and Kasich, both Republicans, over an audit of JobsOhio’s finances. JobsOhio is a private nonprofit agency largely funded with public dollars.
A spokeswoman for the Auditor’s Office declined to comment on Cupp’s activities, saying she could not comment on ongoing investigations. Cupp could not be reached for comment.
Questions over JobsOhio’s funding have mounted after the state’s Republican auditor issued a subpoena last week seeking access to its private financial books.
Yost has given JobsOhio Chief Financial Officer Kevin Giangola until Tuesday to produce the records after JobsOhio declined to volunteer them. He has asked for financial statements, spending and revenue ledgers, salary and benefits payments and other documents — or an explanation for withholding them.
Yost says he has the right to audit the public and private funds flowing through the public-private partnership, though the administration and Republican leaders who control the Legislature think otherwise.
If negotiations aren’t settled, the case will be heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Besides his six years on the state’s highest court, Cupp was an appellate court judge in Lima and served 16 years as an Ohio senator. He also was an Allen County commissioner, a private attorney, a Lima city prosecutor and an assistant law director. Cupp left his job at the Ohio Supreme Court at the end of 2012 following a loss in the November election. Yost asked Cupp to join the office after the position came open.
State Reps. John Carney and Denise Driehaus, both Democrats, are also calling for a vote by the House Finance and Appropriations Committee to subpoena JobsOhio leaders to appear before the panel to address financing questions.