MEDINA — The county is looking into whether Commissioner Pat Geissman violated Ohio’s Ethics Law when she acquired a loan last year through the Fix-It-Fund program.
County Commissioner Sharon Ray said she was looking to use the loan program for her house this year and found, according to an advisory opinion from the Ohio Ethics Commission, it would be a violation of Ohio Ethics Law.
“I was not a commissioner when the Fix-It-Funds were approved, so I checked with the county prosecutors to see if I could,” said Ray, who did not seek re-election this year.
At Monday’s county commissioners meeting, Geissman admitted to using the program and said she did not know at the time she acquired the loan that it might be a violation. Geissman said she took out the loan in 2009 for her roof and has since paid it off.
“If I knew it was wrong, then I wouldn’t have done it,” she said.
Fix-It-Funds are home improvement loans offered by the Medina County Treasurer’s Office for homeowners to repair or remodel their homes. It’s a Linked Deposit Program, in which residents can take out a low-interest loan from the bank, and in exchange the county Treasurer’s Office takes out a certificate of deposit with the bank for however much the bank loans to the resident. The residents must pay off the loan in five years, and the county’s CD matures at the same time.
According to a letter from the county prosecutor’s office to Ray, a public official cannot gain monetarily from these types of public programs, county Commissioner Steve Hambley said. “If we approve it, then we can’t use it.”
The letter from the prosecutor’s office cites the opinion from the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Ohio Revised Code 2921.42 (A) (3) states “no public official shall knowingly … during the public official’s term of office or within one year thereafter, occupy any position of profit in the prosecution of a public contract authorized by the public official or by a legislative body, commission, or board of which the public official was a member.”
Whether Geissman has violated the ethics law is under review by prosecutor’s office, Hambley said, and commissioners also are waiting on the office for guidance on how to proceed.
A spokesman at the Ohio Ethics Commission said he couldn’t speak to specifics, and referred to the Ethics Law section in the Ohio Revised Code.
Contact Becky Tener at (330) 721-4012 or email@example.com.