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Ohio Ethics Commission Determining If It Can Investigate Columbus Zoo


The Ohio Ethics Commission is reviewing whether it has the authority to investigate Columbus Zoo officials.

The top two officials at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium resigned following aColumbus Dispatchinvestigation about the improper use of zoo resources. The newspaper reported CEO Tom Stalf and CEO Greg Bell let relatives live in houses owned by the zoo and got family members free tickets for entertainment events.

Both Stalf and Bell have resigned, according to the zoo.

Now, the ethics commission is determining whether it has authority to launch a state-level investigation into the zoo, according to executive director Paul Nick. The ethics commission only has jurisdiction to investigate public officials.

Columbus Zoo is a non-profit organization, but it receives taxpayer money.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is working with the zoo to determine how the entity was formed and whether employees are a part of OPERS, the largest public pension fund in Ohio. Such details will help the ethics commission determine whether the zoo can be legally considered a public entity.

Nick says the commission hopes to have answers by its next meeting on April 30.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.