Prized Buckeye tickets challenge officials' ethics
The face value they pay is only a fraction of their true worth, and they go to those who fund, legislate and oversee the schoolBy Dennis J. Willard and Stephanie Warsmith
Beacon Journal staff writers
Published on Sunday, Jul 13, 2008
COLUMBUS: When state Rep. John Widowfield cleaned out his office, resigned and left town on May 28, word quickly spread that he might have been involved in the illegal sale of Ohio State football tickets.
It is alleged that the Cuyahoga Falls Republican used campaign funds to purchase and scalp the highly prized tickets. If he pocketed thousands of dollars from the sales, then Widowfield broke the law by converting campaign contributions for personal use.
By virtue of his office, Widowfield — who never attended Ohio State, and has degrees from the University of Akron and Hiram College — was allowed to buy season tickets to sporting events that are among the most desired in the country.
He was on a special list of people in high places who each year are entitled to a privilege denied thousands of OSU alumni and Ohio families — seats in the Shoe.
Four 2007 season tickets, which were typically offered for sale to lawmakers, have a face value of $1,680 and are considered worth much more on the open market.
The university employees who manage that list are in the office of government relations, the office responsible for lobbying government officials on behalf of the university.
And the same lobbying arm that afforded Widowfield special front-of-the-line status has for years reached out to anyone in public office who has the power to legislate, regulate and investigate the university.
Now, as the Widowfield probe continues, Ohio State's lobbying efforts to make friends and influence important people are raising questions about potential conflicts of interests. . . .
Continued on ohio.com.
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