- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s House speaker has ordered an ethics investigation into whether a consultant for Wright State University possibly advised the school’s president to offer to throw him a major fundraiser while he was advocating for state money.

Emails reviewed by the Dayton Daily News (https://bit.ly/22VxIqM ) show consultant Ron Wine advised WSU President David Hopkins to suggest the fundraiser while asking Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, a Wright State graduate, for help raising $10 million in private and public funding to host a September presidential debate.

In the emails, Wine advised Hopkins to tell Rosenberger that school supporters could host the fundraiser.

Wine suggested that Hopkins let Rosenberger know “the Friends of WSU would like to organize a major fundraiser for his campaign and House Leadership in Dayton in 2016,” according to a Nov. 17 email.

Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe said that if the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee became aware of facts indicating the offering of contributions in exchange for a specific official action, appropriate law enforcement would be notified.

Directly linking advocacy for state funds and campaign fundraising would violate the state’s “pay-to-play” laws.

Wine said last week he’s never advised WSU to engage in any activity based on a “pay-to-play” political strategy. He said he was referencing that he and several WSU employees personally support Rosenberger and want to help his political career as private citizens.

University spokesman Seth Bauguess said in a statement that Hopkins hasn’t offered to host a political fundraiser on behalf of the school community.

Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, said he’s open to discussing state funds to support the presidential debate but has yet to hear any concrete figures from Wright State officials.

“I believe we could and should support a big public event. We do that across the state. We’ll do the same for the convention when it comes to Cleveland,” he said.


Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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