Rick Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike & Infrastructure Commission and an Archbold High School graduate, was investigated, and cleared, by the office of the Ohio Inspector General in connection with the hiring Hodges’ wife in 2011.
The report filed by the IG office states Hodges’ wife, Susan, was hired by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as a “Word Processing Specialist 2” in an external, interim capacity on Oct. 25, 2011.
At the time, Rick Hodges was the BWC director of legislative development & operational reform. He left the BWC the next month to assume his current position with the Turnpike Commission.
The IG office states in the report, a complaint alleging improper hiring practices and nepotism at the BWC was filed on Jan. 18, 2012.
The Collins English Dictionary defines nepotism as “favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power of influence.”
The IG report states Susan Hodges was hired in an “external interim capacity.”
“Ms. Hodges was hired to temporarily replace an employee who was in the process of applying for disability leave,” the report said.
In a footnote, the report said, “…As the position was of a lower pay grade, BWC was unable to fill the vacancy internally, so (it) hired someone from outside the agency in a temporary capacity.”
Prior to the filing of the complaint with the IG office, a grievance was filed with the BWC bargaining unit (which represents unionized work- ers employed by the BWC) regarding the hiring of Susan Hodges.
In a January 5, 2012 hearing, the hearing officer determined the BWC did not violating any hiring practices or the contract with the bargaining unit when Susan Hodges was hired.
The hearing officer did not make a ruling on the nepotism question.
The IG office report states that during an interview with an IG investigator, Rick Hodges said he did not speak to Stephen Buehrer, BWC administrator, about hiring his wife at the BWC.
In a telephone interview with this newspaper, Rick Hodges confirmed that statement.
When asked if he had used his influence to get Susan Hodges the job, he said “of course not.”
The IG staff recommended the hearing into the charges against Rick Hodges be closed.
“A bargaining unit hearing was held regarding the hiring of Ms. Hodges as an interim employee with no findings,” the IG report said.
“Information was not obtained to substantiate the allegation of nepotism.
“In addition, Mr. Hodges was in the process of obtaining a new position at another agency around the time of his spouse’s hiring.”
The IG investigation of Hodges was recently a topic on the left-leaning political blog “Plunderbund.”
Hodges, a Republican, pointed out Plunderbund “is a partisan website.
“My wife deserves to get a job just like anybody else,” he said, saying she doesn’t need his influence.
“She’s perfectly capable of getting the job on her own.”– David Pugh