Here’s what we learned about drug money.
This is one of those articles where you think you have one story and then you turn a corner and bam! You get a piece of information that leads you to a bigger story. I learned so much working on this investigation about what happens to drug money.
The story centers around outgoing county prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown. She gifted cash to kids who completed 4-H projects and it nicely illustrates how Ohio law needs to do better. Ohio county prosecutors and county sheriffs have two outside accounts – meaning checks don’t cross the auditor’s desk for approval before they go out of these accounts. One of these accounts hold profits from drug money seizures. One can imagine the confusion and misuse this can cause. But I don’t think all of the misuse is malicious. Instead, some misuse is born from the discretion given elected officials.
We also learned about the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, an organization that solely exists to serve elected officials. The organization charges outrageous annual dues that are – you guessed – paid using these outside accounts. The organization is classified as a 501(c)3 organization and therefore was able to turn down our Freedom Of Information Act public records requests even though they are clearly funded with public money.
Eye On Ohio will follow up on this story as more information becomes available. We filled a public records request with the Department of Justice and are waiting for more information. Also, there may be a podcast in the works about this issue with Why Don’t We Know. For now here’s what we’ve learned so far:
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Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is an award-winning freelance writer and columnist. She is the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, member of the Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Board, and a board member for the Cincinnati Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She lives with her family in Northern Kentucky. Find her on social media @WriterBonnie or at WriterBonnie.com.