Joel Mowbray

Ohio’s Complete Count Committee—which the Census Bureau spokesperson described as a “full partner”—is headed by the Democratic state treasurer, Kevin Boyce, who has a disturbing history of ethical lapses.  His transgressions range from traditional cronyism to reckless handling of taxpayer money.

Here’s a brief highlight reel:

  • He at least raised the appearance—and possibly committed the act—of selling a lucrative state contract for campaign contributions.  One week after he awarded Key Bank a six-figure contract to process the state’s payroll checks, the firm’s officials hosted a $500-per-person fundraiser for Boyce.
  • According to the left-of-center Dayton Daily News, Boyce has hired a spate of young, questionably qualified staffers, all of whose main résumé point seemed to be having a powerful Democratic connection.  Among them are the 24-year-old son of two key advisors to Gov. Ted Strickland (whose previous jobs were at a zoo and a water park), the 22-year-old daughter of the former mayor of Toledo (who also was years ago Boyce’s boss), and the sister of Cincinnati’s former mayor.
  • Also in the Dayton Daily News is this gem: “As Ohio’s budget swells with red ink, state Treasurer Kevin Boyce spent $32,469 in taxpayer money on promotional items such as water bottles, grocery bags and pencils and plans to buy another $47,457 in swag plastered with his name.”

This is the man spearheading the state of Ohio’s “full partnership” with the U.S. Census Bureau.  Boyce’s committee is also, in the words of the Census Bureau spokesperson, “encouraged to come up with creative approaches to increasing response rates.”

But “creativity” is the last thing we should want from someone with Boyce’s shady track record.

The potential for mischief is certainly greater than zero—especially with so much on the line.  Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, and the skewing of the Congressional redistricting could even tip control of the U.S. House if the two parties are nearly tied in the other 49 states.  That’s called incentive.

As for opportunity, Boyce’s committee will be given thousands of blank census forms to place at unmanned booths in “high-traffic” locations across the state.  These “Be Counted Sites” will allow any passerby to grab a form, fill it out, and send it in. 

From the handling of the forms by the committee to the completion of them by ordinary Ohioans, it’s all on the honor system.  Census Bureau spokesperson Lisa Cochran wrote in an e-mail, “Be Counted Forms will be checked against mail-in questionnaires to ensure that they are not duplicates of forms already received, and that they belong to verifiable addresses.” 

That said, there’s little the Census can do for verification if someone claims to have been transient or homeless, or if a household resident count is slightly inflated.

As “full partners” in the 2010 census, Boyce and his cronies presumably would have the knowledge of how best to game the system—and his lapses show that he doesn’t allow ethics to stand in his way.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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