Frustrated by the lack of progress that has been made to transfer the state liquor enterprise to JobsOhio, the Kasich administration has taken the unusual step of effectively suing itself to induce the Supreme Court of Ohio to rule once and for all on the constitutionality of the state’s private nonprofit economic development entity. JobsOhio and its president, interim state Chief Investment Officer Mark Kvamme, have filed suit against Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman to compel the agency to sign a state contract to transfer its wholesale liquor operation to JobsOhio for 25 years. Goodman has declined to sign the liquor transfer agreement, not because he opposes it, but because of ongoing legal challenges to JobsOhio backed by ProgressOhio and several Democratic lawmakers. The 10th District Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court finding that the group lacked standing to challenge JobsOhio, prompting the lawmakers and ProgressOhio to go directly to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has yet to say whether it will accept the case.
Calling the latest lawsuit a “shell game,” Senator Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Representative Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) and ProgressOhio have moved to intervene in the case. The parties’ motion states, in part, “Any judgment arising from such collusion would be tainted, so this case should not remain on this Court’s docket absent the presence of parties in true opposition,” adding that only by allowing the lawmakers and ProgressOhio to present “genuine opposition and bona fide research will separation of powers and the public interest be served.”
Added Murray, “The Kasich administration is playing litigation paddy cake with itself to try to distort Ohio constitutional law. Both sides of this sham litigation say that they think JobsOhio is constitutional, meaning that if the Court were to decide this case, neither ‘side’ of the Kasich administration would be arguing to protect the Ohio Constitution or the people of this state from exactly this kind of government overreach that the constitution is designed to prevent.”