DeWine gets Fox report

Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter steps aside, sends Ohio Ethics Commission's findings to Attorney General, citing conflicts
Alissa Widman Neese
Jun 4, 2014

The Ohio Ethics Commission has concluded its investigation of former Huron Schools Superintendent Fred Fox, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter confirmed Wednesday evening.

The commission submitted its report to Baxter this past winter, he said.

On Jan. 8, Baxter forwarded the report to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who will serve as the case's special prosecutor and consider whether criminal charges should be filed. 

"I know many of the parties involved, and I didn't feel it was right for my office to handle this case," Baxter said.

Fox called the commission's investigation "frivolous."

"We don't expect any charges to come from this," he said. "It's an embarrassing situation for the ethics commission because they spent a lot of time and money."

The Ohio Ethics Commission fields complaints against public officials and determines whether an accused individual's behavior is unethical. Its representatives will not comment on ongoing investigations until they have publicly released an official report on their findings, which only happens if an individual is found to have behaved unethically.

Because of its confidential nature, it's unclear what charges the commission is suggesting.

In May 2012, a three-person majority of Huron school board members agreed to submit a formal complaint to the Ohio Ethics Commission regarding Fox's alleged misdeeds. They include an improper business relationship with a district vendor, improperly seeking reimbursements for a business trip and an extramarital affair on school time.

Fox officially lost his job with Huron Schools in April 2013 through a controversial firing. He contends the three board members wrongfully terminated him and has a pending lawsuit against them, as well as the district.

The Register contacted the Ohio Attorney General's Office Wednesday seeking more information and a status update on the review.  

Comments

Wjones44

With Shepard Smith?

margaritaville88

Who wants to start this episode of Dewine?? LMAO

Babo

The law needs to be changed concerning publishing results of Ohio Ethics Commission complaints and investigations. It is ridiculous that citizens have no means to assess the effectiveness of the Ohio Ethics Commission and the prosecutors to whom the cases are referred. Over two years from filing of the complaint and 6 months since the referral to the AG by Baxter indicates serious accountability problems at the Commission and DeWine's office.

It's rather obvious that the Commission recommended some charges otherwise there would be no need to refer the matter to the AG.

SamAdams

I agree with you where the transparency of such results are concerned. It isn't just that we deserve to know what happened in cases of malfeasance, but that the ACCUSED deserves the publicity of innocence should investigations find nothing! Rumors always abound, and in the case of the guilty, they can poison jury pools and the like; in the case of the innocent, the black cloud of suspicion is undeserved but remains over their head without evidence to the contrary.

In this case, however, I have a feeling you're right. If nothing was found, there's zero point in referring the matter ANYwhere!

Babo

I think a subject of an Ethics Commission Complaint can release the results to the press/public, so that would help expose wrongful referrals. But your point is valid because a finding of no misconduct probably would not receive much publicity or might be more fodder for gossip mongers. Then again, an intentional wrongful or completely baseless complaint for political purposes ought to be exposed and even prosecuted.

So, I think it would be good public policy for the Ohio Ethics Commission to publicly release results of their investigations upon completion similar to the Auditor of State.

Informed

Obviously the board was right to fire Fox. If the Ethics commission found nothing, there would be nothing to refer to Baxter/DeWine. Even if nothing further is pursued, the fact that the case has gone this far suggests that even if laws weren't necessarily broken, Fox behaved in a shady manner. I'm glad the three board members stood up to the other two and did the right thing.

Gardenman

It was a bad time for everyone in Huron when this all took place. Does not matter what side one was on. Its too bad this is all starting again and the whole things again is becoming a topic. Just opens lots of wounds for both sides.

Julie R.

Criminal charges for unethical behavior like having an affair? That doesn't make any sense. There must have been more to Fox's firing than was originally reported. Also, who is Baxter referring to when he says he knows many of the parties involved? Other than Fox and his Murray attorney, who else is involved?

Informed

The firing wasn't just about the affair. It was also about Kalahari and other issues.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Julie, the OEC only looks at the ethics charges (eg - accepting privileges or monetary gifts). Fox's affair and misuse of school property does not fall under its jurisdiction. The OEC only addressed a few of the charges brought against Fox by the school board.

Julie R.

Why would Baxter turn something like this over to the Ohio Attorney General? Why didn't he just turn it over to his "special prosecutor" like he does everything else?

As an afterthought, why did he even bother to turn it over to anybody at all? Why didn't he just go running to hide like he does when his attorney friends are involved in crimes.

DirkDiggler

Where are all the Fox supporters now ??? Mr. Pied Piper Realtor should get a yellow smiley face tattooed on his forehead !

Tsu Dho Nimh

Now that's funny!!!!!!

TaxRaider

Laughing so hard my sides hurt.

UgtaBkdnMe

Alissa,

Has there been any news regarding the investigation on Caporini?