Impacted population poorly represented

226 public officials to be eligible to accept bribes

Torria Catrone
Journalism Fellow, Harm Reduction Ohio 

Until now, OneOhio’s regional board members have been virtually anonymous. The government-controlled OneOhio Recovery Foundation controls $1.1 billion of Ohio’s nearly $2 billion in opioid settlement money. Regional boards will dominate this spending, making near-binding recommendations to the Foundation on how money will be spent.

So, who exactly are the faces behind OneOhio’s powerful regional boards? 

Since OneOhio has not provided any information on the 19 boards which control the majority of opioid spending in the state, Harm Reduction Ohio spent three weeks trying to identify the people on these boards and their connection to Ohio’s opioid epidemic.

This article is the most comprehensive report so far on the people, no longer anonymous, who will control 55% of Ohio’s opioid settlement money. These findings are especially important now because the Ohio legislature is likely to pass a law in early July that will make the members and their actions secret – exempting them from open meeting and public records laws. 

Before the opioid settlement goes dark, Harm Reduction Ohio reports its findings on the 19 regional boards. Of the 294 total regional board seats, we identified 274 members by name. All members have been appointed by local governments (counties, townships, villages, and cities). 

Regional board members identified

Harm Reduction Ohio identified 274 regional board members among the total of 294 seats. Key findings:

    • 81% are white, 14% are people of color, and 5% could not be determined. 
    • 3% have documented lived or shared experience with opioid use and overdose.
    • 83% are public officials (48% elected, 35% government employees), 17% are private citizens. 
    • 67% are men, 33% are women.

OneOhio Regions

The OneOhio settlement agreement divides Ohio into 19 regions. Eight boards represent urban counties, and 11 represent the non-metropolitan counties. Seven of the 8 urban regions are single-county. For example, Region 1 consists of Franklin County, home to the city of Columbus. 

Non-metropolitan regions consist of four to nine counties. Rural Region 19 covers eight counties from Holmes to Erie. 

Demographic diversity

Determining the racial composition of the regional boards is important because Black residents account for 14% of Ohio’s population and 21% of all overdose deaths. Yet, in 10 regions (with a total of 67 counties), there are no known representatives of color. OneOhio’s 29-member state board only has one Black member (3%). 

Harm Reduction Ohio’s survey found that the regional boards, on the whole, have representation that more closely reflects Ohio’s population than the OneOhio Recovery Foundation. Still, the organization falls significantly short in properly representing the people of color and other minority communities that suffer harm from the opioid epidemic. Nearly all non-white members hail from urban counties, while non-metropolitan regions are almost entirely white. 

The three most diverse boards: 

    1. Region 4 (Toledo/Lucas) – 57% People of Color (POC)
    2. Region 2 (Cincinnati/Hamilton) – 53% POC
    3. Region 3 (Cleveland/Cuyahoga) – 38% POC

 The survey also found that the impacted population — those with lived- and shared-experience — have negligible representation on the regional boards (3%). The OneOhio Recovery Foundation state board excludes the impacted population in a similar manner. 

Public officials, Private interests

Like the state board, regional boards are largely made up of government officials that are appointed by other government officials. The governmental status of board members is important because of the Ohio legislature’s effort to make bribery legal and opioid settlement spending secret. 

If the legislature legalizes bribery, as expected in the next week or so, 131 local elected officials (county commissioners, township trustees, etc.) and 95 government (mental health directors, health commissioners, sheriff’s deputies, etc.) would be able to accept bribes and have direct interest in OneOhio contracts.

The legislature holds that opioid settlement money and OneOhio, the organization created to oversee it, are private entities. If the amendment to the state budget is passed, the OneOhio state board and all 19 regional boards will be explicitly exempt from anti-corruption and transparency laws. They will not have to follow ethics laws, nor will they be subject to audits. The amendment also legalizes bribes – the use of money to influence where the settlement money gets sent. 

With this shift, elected officials and government employees on regional could legally accept money to steer opioid settlement funds to whoever they choose.  State board members could do the same. Bribery would remain illegal for non-opioid settlement fund spending. 

Meet the new class of public officials on the verge of being granted the right to accept bribes and spend government money behind closed doors, as identified by Harm Reduction Ohio. 

Region 1

Region 2

Region 3

Region 4

Region 5

Region 6

Region 7

Region 8

Region 9

(By row, from left to right): 1. Bambi Baugh, Chris Hodges, Danny Pertuset, Don McIlroy, Eric Daniels, Gary Scherer, Scottie Powell, Doug Corcoran; 2. John Haas, Luke Feeney, Mark Pitstick, Matt Corder, Richard Dryden, Tony Anderson, Tonya Sturgill, Jim Hatfield; 3. Daryll Gray, Tony Montgomery, Tracy Evans, Ty Pell, Zac Corbin; Tony Gulley, Richard Beasley, Ted Adams (not pictured)

Region 10

Region 11

Region 12

(By row, from left to right): 1. Adam Shriver, Dane Shyrock, Darrell Crum, Jack Marlin, Jeannette Wierzbicki, Shawn Ray, Jennifer Arnold, John Walter Finley, Leondra Davis; 2. Max Crown, Scott Owen, Bill Ferguson, Brandi Beaver, Charlie Schilling, Corey Hamilton, Don Mason, Gracee Poorman; 3. Josh Schlicher, Kevin Brooks, Mick Schumacher, Misty Cromwell, Mollie Crooks, TJ Ross; Bo Powell, Chris Rich, Clint Miller (not pictured)

Region 13

Region 14

(By row, from left to right): 1. Cindy Carpenter, David Painter, Gary Salmon, Pat Moeller, Steve Collett, Teresa Hinners, Brian Prickett, Shannon Jones, Judi Boyko, Scott Rasmus; 2. Miles Miller, Greg Pickford, Lee Ann Watson, Christopher Wallace, Patrick Closser, Robert Turvy, Beau Thompson, Brad Reynolds, Michael Craft; 3. Nancy Brown, Tiffany Schwartz, Deborah Wallace, Richard Gould, Mike McCarty, Amanda Childers, Bryan Shaw, Stephanie Harris; Tracie Braun (not pictured)

Region 15

(By row, from left to right): 1. Adam Sorensen, Amy Ikerd, Andrew Heffner, Austin Cole, Ben Stahler, Beth Seibert, Cheryl Wears, Dan Harting, Tammy Allison; 2. Diane Gable, Edwin Pierce, Greg Simmons, Howard Violet, Joe Antram, Joseph Ferriell; 3. Terri Becker, Scott Barr, Scott Vosler, Matt Aultman, Matt Simmons, Michael Vorhees; 4. Julie Ehemann, Marcus Ballinger, Pam Schwartz, Brian Phillips; Tina Hooks (not pictured)

Region 16

Region 17

Region 18

Region 19

OneOhio State Board

(By row, from left to right): 1. Larry Kidd, Don Mason, Keith Hochadel, Michael Roizen, Thomas Gregoire, Jane Portman, Christopher Smitherman, Rob McColley, Matt Old; 2. Evan Kleymer, Gail Pavliga, Richard Brown, Josh Cox, Denise Driehaus, David Matia, Scott Sylak, Ilene Shapiro, Duane Piccirilli; 3. Judy Dodge, Bambi Baughn, Jeffrey Simmons, Jeannette Wierzbicki, Casey Kozlowski, Greta Mayer, Julie Ehemann, Mircea Handru, Robert Radcliffe, Jeff Fix

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