Springfield Republican Sen. Chris Widener may have violated Ohio ethics law when he personally appeared before a state board to appeal a building code ruling on a fire hall he designed as part of his private business, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.
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Springfield Republican Chris Widener’s architectural and legislative careers have blossomed on parallel and sometimes intersecting tracts. Here is a timeline of his business and public careers:
1989: Is licensed as architect
1990: Starts an architecture firm in Springfield
1995: Runs for Mad River-Green Local Schools
Dec 1999-Dec 2000: is appointed to serve 74th House District, which includes all of Madison and parts of Clark and Greene counties.
2002: Widener and others co-found Ohio Equine and Agricultural Association to build and run the Champion Center.
2003: Ohio Equine and Agricultural Association signs 99-year lease with Clark County to build and operate Champion Center. Widener and six other OEAA members back a $4 million mortgage loan for the Champion Center with Security National Banks and Trust.
Jan 2003-Dec 2008: serves the 84th House District, which includes all of Madison and most of Clark and Greene counties. While in the House, he serves on the following committees: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Banking, Pensions & Securities; Commerce & Labor; Homeland Security, Engineering & Architectural Design; Public Utilities and Energy; Commerce and Labor; Financial Institutions, Real Estate & Securities; Insurance; Ways & Means.
2005: Champion Center applies for tax-exempt status but is denied due to paperwork error.
2007: Widener’s firm is picked to build Bethel Township’s fire station in Medway.
March 11, 2008: Widener votes to concur on Senate amendments to House Bill 160, which eventually helps Ohio Equine get out from $413,877 in back taxes.
Jan 2009-current: Widener serves the 10th Senate District, which covers all of Greene, Clark and Madison counties. In the Senate, he serves on the Finance and Financial Institutions; Commerce & Labor; Government Oversight & Reform, Rules & Reference, Ways & Means committees and the Controlling Board. He chairs the Finance Committee 2011-2012.
May 1, 2009: Widener resigns from Ohio Equine and Agricultural Association.
June 2, 2009: Senate Finance passes budget bill with the bed tax amendment insterted that eventually helps bring revenue to Ohio Equine.
October 2009: Widener appears before the state Board of Building Appeals on behalf of Bethel Twp and wins a variance to accomodate the building design that doesn’t adhere to building codes.
April 2010: Widener’s architecture firm bids for and narrowly wins the contract to design an ice arena in downtown Springfield.
June 2011: Ohio Department of Taxation grants tax exempt status, relieving Ohio Equine of tax burden for 2007, 2008 and 2009.