Posted: 9:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012
Here is a history of Jim Leftwich’s dual role with state government and Wright State University, which resulted in the termination of his state job and the matter being referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission for investigation.
March 2011: Gov. John Kasich taps Leftwich to be director for the Ohio Department of Development.
Aug. 1, 2011: Leftwich abruptly steps down, and the work is transitioned to the new JobsOhio led by venture capitalist Mark Kvamme.
Sept. 1, 2011: Leftwich hired as “intermittent employee” at Ohio Department of Development advising the governor on aerospace and defense issues. He was paid $114,580 for 1,348 hours of work between Sept. 1, 2011, and Oct. 6, 2012, when the job was terminated. The administration will not say what he did during that time, describing it as a “trade secret.”
May 4, 2012: Wright State signs first contract with Leftwich’s company, Viance Partners, which covers period from March 1 to June 30, 2012. The contract, which paid Leftwich’s company $12,500 a month, called for him to “drill down to a better understanding of the university’s commercialization opportunities and agree upon the focus of the next phase.”
July 19, 2012: Wright State signs second contract with Viance Partners. This contract, covering July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, pays the company $20,000 a month, and calls for Viance to develop a structure for supporting WSU’s new start-up companies. Although not specified in the contract, Leftwich and Wright State Vice President for Research Robert Fyffe collaborate on a “technology commercialization model” that calls for Viance Partners to receive a 25 percent ownership stake in the start-up companies.
August 2012: Kasich appoints Leftwich to Third Frontier Advisory Board. Three weeks later, Leftwich writes email to Fyffe suggesting Third Frontier funding for start-up efforts.
October 2012: Kasich administration terminates Leftwich’s $80-an-hour job at the development department and refers matter to Ohio Ethics Commission. Leftwich resigns from Third Frontier Advisory Board, saying he didn’t have enough time to “serve meaningfully.”
The Ohio Development Services Agency responded to written questions regarding the employment and termination of Jim Leftwich, including why he was hired as an “intermittent” employee and not as a consultant, which typically requires approval from the State Controlling Board.
Q: Did the department opt for intermittent employee to avoid having to go to the Controlling Board?
A: “The department leadership’s intent from the beginning was for this to go to the Controlling Board and receive the full and proper scrutiny of a public hearing and legislative review. It’s unfortunate this wasn’t fully understood by staff and that the “intermittent” status didn’t allow this to happen.”
Q: How did the error go unnoticed for 13 months?
A: “The more relevant question is how closely should the Agency proactively monitor other employment for staff separately from their own obligations. We’re reviewing these processes now with the intent of strengthening them.”