Friday, December 08, 2006

 

Playing favorites, BWC style

Why is it that those who scream the loudest about the invisible hand of the marketplace are so often wanting to cheat as often as they can get away with it?
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation also provided The Dispatch with information showing that the employers for whom legislators or the governor’s office lobbied the bureau had their rates reduced by as much as 93 percent in a given year.

That includes an 88 percent reduction in the base rate paid in 2005 by Armbruster Energy, a business owned by outgoing state Sen. Jeffry Armbruster, R-North Ridgeville. The bureau does not release dollar amounts of the savings.

Although Armbruster says he did nothing improper, an internal e-mail written by a bureau official earlier this year appeared to question the reduction and noted "this is not the first time we helped him/his business out."

The details are part of an ongoing investigation into whether political influence or anything improper was involved when the bureau performed "manual overrides" of its computer system to lower premium rates for certain employers.

. . .

Bureau auditors flagged 27 of 36 overrides that they examined from January 2003 to September 2005 for not following agency rules or not having enough documentation to determine whether the reductions were justified.

E-mails involving those 27 overrides showed that at least six legislators and the governor’s office had asked for consideration on behalf of the businesses involved.

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