- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s treasurer is accusing the governor of killing a signature bill in 2014 that would have assured the future of his online database of government spending.

The clash over Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel’s online checkbook initiative marks the latest turn in the tense relationship between Mandel and Republican Gov. John Kasich, the former presidential candidate.

Over the years, Mandel has spoken out against Kasich’s proposal to tax big oil and gas drillers and the governor’s decision to expand the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor. The latter option was made available under the federal health care law unpopular with so many Republicans.

Mandel, a former and likely future U.S. Senate candidate, also backed a different White House contender this year. He supported and cast a vote for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio while all Ohio’s other GOP statewide officials supported Kasich.

The plot between the two men thickens with the saga of online checkbook legislation.

In remarks to the Ohio Association of Realtors last month, Mandel described pushing a bill to require the treasurer’s office to maintain an ongoing government spending database.

“I thought this bill would pass pretty quickly,” Mandel told the group in video obtained by The Associated Press. “It’s sort of like baseball, motherhood, apple pie. Who’s against government transparency?”

But, Mandel recounted, Kasich’s office came to him and said they didn’t like House Bill 175. “And they killed it. We couldn’t get this thing passed,” he said.

Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews said the governor supports Mandel’s site for reporting local spending data, but more thorough state spending information was already available.

“Transparency is important to us and that’s why we feel that the most accurate, complete and comprehensive state government financial data comes from the Office of Budget and Management who has day-to-day responsibility for managing the state budget and accounting system,” he said in an email.

According to state lobbying records, 16 members of Kasich’s staff did some form of lobbying on the checkbook measure. The state Department of Administrative Services and the Office of Budget and Management also got involved, records show.

Mandel ultimately launched OhioCheckbook.com in December 2014. He told the real estate group that was a week after he had learned the bill was dead. He recalled dubbing the effort Operation Shawshank because his staff chipped away at the project gradually over years like the protagonist in the prison movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Mandel’s office declined to comment on the remarks in the video other than to confirm the video was authentic. He has said that the legislation would have guaranteed the site continues after he is no longer treasurer.

“OhioCheckbook.com is the only site of its kind and has set a new national standard for government transparency,” spokesman Chris Berry said in an email. “Treasurer Mandel earned Ohio the No. 1 ranking in the country for government transparency as a result of OhioCheckbook.com.”

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