Ohio public safety chief leaves office
Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent   
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 13:51

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The man who led Ohio's public safety forces and served for many years as the state watchdog stepped down from his post Wednesday.

Republican Gov. John Kasich announced the departure of Ohio Department of Public Safety director Tom Charles, 70, on Twitter: "We'll miss you, Col. Charles! For nearly 50 years, you served Ohio well as a dedicated public servant. Best of luck on your retirement." Wednesday was a key retirement benefit deadline under state pension reform.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent John Born was sworn in as Charles' replacement, with Patrol Col. Paul Pride named to Born's job.

Charles may be tasked with monitoring ethics at Kasich's job-creation office, JobsOhio, a state employee with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press. The privatized entity is preparing new ethics guidelines. The worker was not authorized to release the information and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Before he was appointed by Kasich to lead the Public Safety Department in 2010, Charles served for 13 years as Ohio's inspector general, investigating corruption and wrongdoing inside state government. His office led several high-profile investigations, including one earlier that same year into the agency he was chosen to lead. That probe was considered a key factor in the resignation of then-Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor.

Charles was long viewed as nonpartisan in his investigations, having been appointed and reappointed state watchdog by both Republicans George Voinovich and Bob Taft and Democrat Ted Strickland. And his investigations turned political tides in the bellwether state.

His office led the three-year investigation into a state investment scandal that began with rare coins and eventually stretched to include the convictions of Taft, Taft's chief of staff and 17 others. In the scandal's wake, Democrats won four of five statewide elections in 2006, including the governor's office.

Charles also took a leading role in the probe of sexual harassment allegations at the state attorney general's office, which prompted the resignation of Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann in 2008. Fallout from the scandal, along with the poor economy and disgruntlement with the Democratic president, contributed to Democrats losing every statewide office in 2010.

Before becoming inspector general, Charles served 31 years with the Highway Patrol and four years as executive director of the Office of Legislative Inspector General.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

 

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