MIAMI COUNTY — Former Miami County Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien was found to have committed two ethics violations in the summer of 2018 while in office and has been censured by the Ohio Ethics Commission.
In a press release, Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said allegations of the ethics violations by O’Brien was reported to his office in July 2018. Kendell said he concluded there were violations committed by O’Brien and filed a complaint with the OEC in August 2018 with evidence from his office.
O’Brien signed the censure notice on Dec. 30, 2019, and it was signed by Chief Investigation Attorney Julie Korte of the Ohio Ethics Commission on Jan. 8, 2020.
“After an independent investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC), they concluded that O’Brien violated two separate provisions of the Ohio Ethics Laws. At that juncture, I was contacted by the Ethics Commission and asked if I would consider a letter of censure as punishment as opposed to prosecution. After consideration of all the facts and circumstances, I allowed O’Brien to have that option. After a considerable period of time, O’Brien agreed to the censure, which was received by my office earlier this week,” stated Kendell in a press release dated Jan. 23.
According to the OEC settlement agreement dated Dec. 17, 2019, O’Brien applied for and used his public office influence to try to obtain a position with the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities, also known as Riverside, in the summer of 2018, while still in office. O’Brien then voted on two matters affecting the BODD after expressing interest in the position and then applying for the position.
The agreement also stated that “O’Brien is a former commissioner, the BODD held the contract in question already and the votes were to renew ongoing funding; the resolutions in question passed unanimously therefore the passage of the resolutions did not hinge on O’Brien’s vote; O’Brien was not interviewed for the position; officials at the BODD removed O’Brien from the hiring process once they recognized that there was a conflict of interest; and the investigation did not find that O’Brien pressured anyone at the BODD to hire him and found he was cooperative during the investigation.”
According to the agreement, O’Brien received an email on May 5, 2018, about the BODD position by email.
On June 26, 2018, O’Brien expressed interest in the position to the superintendent of the BODD, who said O’Brien needed to confer with the prosecutor’s office before applying for the job due to conflict of interest. On June 28, 2019, O’Brien voted to pass a resolution for contract services between the commissioners on behalf of the Miami County Family and Children First Council and Riverside of Miami County BODD. The program is supported by state and federal funds and promotes family-centered services for infants, toddlers and families.
O’Brien applied for the personnel and staff development director position with the BODD and then texted the directer he had applied on July 6, 2018.
Then on July 10, 2018, O’Brien voted to pass a resolution for early intervention local outreach funds with the Miami County Family and Children First Council and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. The funds are also used for services provided by the BODD. The grant was for $11,629.
On July 18, 2018, Kendell issued the office’s opinion regarding O’Brien’s application for the job to which O’Brien received a letter from the BODD that he was not being considered for the position on July 24.