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State vehicles need to used properly

Elected officials walk a fine line between public appearances required by their jobs and appearances that turn out to be campaign stops. In Ohio, a newspaper’s investigation revealed a few state officials who appear to have done a bit of scrambling to ensure they did not step over that line.

According to a report by The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague traveled a total of 4,447 miles for “unofficial” or personal business. The Dispatch requested mileage records Feb. 18. Sprague’s campaign reimbursed his office $2,312 for personal use of his state car on Feb. 25 — then provided the records to the Dispatch on Feb. 26.

Attorney General David Yost’s office did not keep a travel log, it told the Dispatch. But one was created after records were requested. It showed nearly 600 miles in state vehicles to attend 32 political events in 2019. His campaign later wrote a check for $348 to the attorney general’s office, though spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle insisted, “He’s Ohio’s attorney general at all public-facing events.”

Auditor Keith Faber’s campaign reimbursed his office $727 for 1,397 personal miles on his state SUV in 2019, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s campaign paid back $391 through Oct. 31, 2019. All four officials also have drivers and/or personal aides paid to, among other duties, accompany them on such trips.

Ethics rules exist for a reason. One would think those incumbents would be especially concerned about following them carefully as they hope to convince voters they deserve to remain in office.

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