No surprise that the Ohio Ethics Commission found potential conflicts of interest for member of the board of JobsOhio. That is how the privatized economic development operation is supposed to operate, business leaders taking the lead in helping the state spur business.
So there is going to be an element of coziness. It is built into the design, and it includes a lack of transparency and full accountability. Gov. John Kasich and others long have insisted that better results will follow if JobsOhio and its partners do not face the bright light aimed at public work.
The governor campaigned three years ago on the promise of such an approach. He has deserved the opportunity to press ahead, the concept evolving in shape. What Ohioans should keep in mind is the risk in the effort, or the message implicit in the finding of the ethics commission. There is room for mischief — and worse.
Those at JobsOhio are quick to note that the organization has its own ethics policy, that it keeps its eyes peeled for conflicts of interest. The enduring problem is, the entity polices itself. Such an arrangement hardly has proved a consistent winning formula for avoiding corruption and abuse.
Perhaps suspicions will ease if JobsOhio delivers big on the employment front, though questions about its effectiveness remain. What invites unease is the presence of board members with financial interests, larger and smaller, in companies receiving state incentives. Ohio has been down this road in the past. It did not turn out well. Those episodes may seem far removed. Actually, they are reminder of how quickly trouble arrives.