Clear of conflicts, abortion foe ends Ohio board presidency

AP News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2016 12:44 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The head of Ohio Right to Life said Friday that he's looking forward to continuing his work on the state medical board next year as he ends his tenure as its president this month.

Mike Gonidakis said he was gratified last month when the Ohio Ethics Commission cleared him of conflict-of-interest accusations in a complaint against a Dayton abortion clinic.

"I appreciate the hard work of the Ethics Commission confirming that at all times I have acted appropriately and within the bounds of the law," Gonidakis said. "Nothing is more important than the reputation and credibility of the Medical Board. I look forward to continuing to serve in my capacity as a board member."

In August, groups representing doctors, consumers and women sought Gonidakis' removal as president, citing alleged conflicts. The commission found no evidence Gonidakis involved himself in the complaint process against the clinic.

The board has since closed the case, which sought action after the state found the facility ended the pregnancy of a woman without proper consent, and Gonidakis recused himself from the matter.

The local Right to Life affiliate filed the complaint and has called on the board to reopen its investigation.

Sam Gresham, chairman of Common Cause Ohio, said he was disappointed in the Ethics Commission's finding.

"The two jobs he holds are in conflict," Gresham said. "As president of Ohio Right to Life, he advocates for ending abortion, a legal medical procedure. As president of the Ohio State Medical Board, he heads a panel with the power to discipline doctors, including ones who perform abortions."

The commission's letter to ProgressOhio, a liberal policy think-tank that joined other groups in calling for Gonidakis' removal, was released Nov. 23.

"To date, there does not appear to be any evidence that Gonidakis has participated as a board member in any matter related to the complaint before the (board)," it stated. "The allegation appears to be premature because it contained no information that Gonidakis has used his public position to act on matters of potential conflict."

Gonidakis also has stepped aside from the medical board's key role in establishing doctor rules under Ohio's new medical marijuana law after taking on lobbying clients associated with the budding industry.

His term on the board runs through July 31. Amol Soin, a pain management doctor from Centerville, takes over as the board's president Jan. 1.