Former Ohio lawmaker faces investigation in Oregon

A former southwest Ohio lawmaker with ties to Democrat Ted Strickland and former deputy Ohio state treasurer Amer Ahmad is facing an investigation in Oregon, according to The (Portland) Oregonian.

The Oregon Educators Benefit Board put its director James Raussen on indefinite paid leave and asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, The Oregonian reported.

Explore>>>RELATED: How Ohio deputy treasurer pulled off biggest bribery scheme in state history

Raussen is a Cincinnati area Republican who served in the Ohio House from 2003 to 2008. Raussen left the House in July 2008 when then-Gov. Strickland created a new $115,000-a-year job for him in the Ohio Department of Development.

When Strickland and other Democrats lost their 2010 election bids, their political appointees, including Raussen and Ahmad, had to find new jobs.

In 2011, Ahmad became comptroller for the city of Chicago and Raussen was named the managing deputy comptroller. But as he took over as comptroller, Ahmad was already under federal investigation in Ohio. Ahmad was hired by Democrat Richard Cordray and promoted by Democrat Kevin Boyce in the Ohio treasury.

In July 2013, Ahmad abruptly resigned from his Chicago job and a month later was indicted on federal bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and other charges in U.S. District Court in Columbus. He pleaded guilty in December 2013 to his role in running a kickback scheme that involved steering state trading work to a high school classmate who in turn paid $523,000 in bribe money disguised as fees and loans to Ahmad’s co-conspirators.

Raussen was not implicated in that scheme.

In June 2014, Raussen started a Chicago-based consulting firm, according to this LinkedIn page, and was hired as director of the Oregon Educators Benefit Board in December 2013.

The Oregonian reports that Raussen was banned from the OEBB offices but state officials aren’t saying why. And Raussen told the newspaper he is in the dark about why he was put on leave.

The OEBB contracts with insurance companies to provide health care coverage for 150,000 school employees statewide, making it one of the largest insurance customers in Oregon, the paper said.

—-

CONTINUING COVERAGE

Laura Bischoff in our Columbus Bureau has been following this story for more than two years. Our team will continue to cover it as developments happen.

Here’s a look at some of our past coverage:

ExploreMay 22, 2010: Bank hired lobbyist with Boyce aide ties just days before landing state contract
ExploreMay 24, 2010: Lobbyist’s wife works in office that gave $1M state contract to client
ExploreAug. 15, 2013: Former deputy treasurer accused of taking bribes, money laundering
ExploreAug. 19, 2013: Ex-Ohio deputy treasurer enters not guilty plea on bribery charges
ExploreAug. 21, 2013: Ohio GOP calls on Boyce to answer questions about deputy treasurer
ExploreAug. 26, 2013: FBI started treasurer probe during Boyce administration
ExploreAug. 28, 2013: Ohio GOP lobs more questions at former state treasurer
ExploreSept. 4, 2013: Emails show close ties in the state treasurer’s office
ExploreSept. 6, 2013: Indicted former Ohio deputy treasurer hired ex-state lawmaker for Ohio job
ExploreSept. 14, 2013: Former state treasurer silent on federal probe
ExploreOct. 19, 2013: Record sought by feds went missing
ExploreDec. 20, 2013: Ohio lobbyist pleads guilty to corruption
ExploreDec. 23, 2013: Former Ohio deputy state treasurer pleads guilty for fraud, taking bribes
ExploreApril 25, 2014: Feds issue arrest warrant for former deputy Ohio treasurer
ExploreApril 28, 2014: Former deputy Ohio state treasurer wanted fake passport, now on the run
ExploreApril 30: US tries to get Ahmad back from Pakistani officials
ExploreMay 1: Fugitive former Ohio official kept diary of his escape to Pakistan
ExploreMay 28: Fugitive vacationed in Hawaii before fleeing country

About the Author

ajc.com