State officials are considering firing Michael Travis, chief ombudsman for the Industrial Commission of Ohio Nominating Council, for “malfeasance and neglect of duty.”
A notice sent out today by Eric Burkland, chairman of the Ohio Industrial Commission Nominating Council, said the council will hold a public hearing July 24 to decide if Travis should be removed from his $104,663 job. Travis was appointed in 2007 for a six-year term concluding this October. He is a 22-year state employee, including several years as the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation law director.
Travis, 56, was the subject of a June 27 report by Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer that concluded he violated several ethics rules related to an outside teaching job and special treatment given to his daughter. Travis works for the nominating council, which is independent of the BWC, but helps people navigate the system for injured workers.
According to the 29-page probe, Travis taught class at Columbus State College two mornings a week during the summer of 2012. While he claimed to use his lunch break for the 10-11:50 a.m. business class, investigators found he violated outside work rules and improperly used his state computer, e-mail, telephone and other tax-funded resources to teach the course.
The probe also found Travis misused his state parking privileges by allowing his daughter, who worked for the Ohio Industrial Commission at the time, to park in his lot. Investigators found 13 incidents where Travis, after parking his car on the lot, met his daughter at the gate to give her his swipe card, allowing her free access, too. She also used his swipe card on days he was not working.
In addition, Travis referred his daughter for possible employment to a health-care company he dealt with in his capacity as ombudsman, however, she never followed-up on his directive that she call about a job.
In an interview, Travis acknowledged that he kept materials for his Columbus State job on his state computer.
“I don’t dispute that’s wrong,” he said. “But is it a fireable offense after 24 years as an administrative official? I don’t think so.”
Travis also admitted letting his daughter use his parking pass to access a state parking lot. He now pays $50 monthly to use the lot, but at the time of the inspector general’s investigation, the state was picking up the tab. Nevertheless, Travis said he is fighting the accusation “tooth and nail” because it is common practice for state employees to occasionally let other people use their parking spaces.
Travis said he will attend the July 24 hearing to respond to the accusations. He said he is not seeking reappointment and plans to retire after his six-year term expires.
By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT) Dispatch reporter Catherine Candisky contributed to this story.
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