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State provides details on Leftwich’s salary


Before dismissing him and referring his case to the Ohio Ethics Commission, the Kasich administration paid former state development director Jim Leftwich $85 an hour to lay out Ohio’s strategy to win a coveted drone testing site designation and size up the competition, according to 45 pages of public documents released this month.

In the end, though, the federal government passed over Ohio and named test sites in Nevada, New York, Virginia, North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

In November 2012, the Dayton Daily News requested public documents detailing what Leftwich did to earn $114,850 during his 13 months as an intermittent state employee. Leftwich had been serving a dual role as both a state worker and a private contractor for Wright State University.

The state initially refused to release the records, saying Leftwich’s work constituted a “trade secret” while Ohio was still seeking the FAA test site designation.

But four months after the FAA snubbed Ohio’s bid, and 17 months after the Daily News requested the records, the development agency released the documents.

The records show:

  • Leftwich produced a 23-page report, an eight-page update on his work and a seven-page “road map for an unmanned aerial systems strategy.”
  • His supervision by Ohio Development Services Agency officials — on paper, at least — was minimal. Leftwich exchanged emails with DSA officials on just three dates over 13 months.
  • Leftwich reported that New Mexico was the greatest competitive threat to the Dayton region winning a test site. New Mexico, however, was not among the six selected.

 

The Kasich administration worked with the Dayton Development Coalition to prepare the 6,000-page proposal to the FAA. It is unclear how much the state spent on the effort overall.

Leftwich did not return email and phone messages left seeking comment.

When Kasich administration officials learned that Leftwich was serving as both a state employee and a private contractor for a public university, it terminated his employment and asked the ethics commission to investigate.

Leftwich originally joined the Kasich administration in March 2011 as state development director but abruptly stepped down six months later. A month later, his former department, which was renamed the Development Services Agency, hired him back as an intermittent employee.

Ohio Development Services Agency spokeswoman Lyn Tolan said the ethics investigation is ongoing.

Like many universities, WSU wants to increase revenue by commercializing technology research and growing technology startup companies. Wright State hired Leftwich and his consulting company, Viance Partners, to help. Viance Partners was to be paid $277,5000 over 15 months, according to the contracts, which ended in June 2013.

As a state employee, Leftwich was required to follow state ethics laws, which require disclosure of outside work. A spokesman for Kasich has said that Leftwich did not inform the governor’s office about the consulting contracts with Wright State.



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