State Sen. Chris Widener pitched consultant job

Lawmaker who resigned Senate seat wants to work with colleges on transitioning vets.

The proposal, obtained by this newspaper, addresses one of the questions that has puzzled many in the Statehouse since Widener’s surprise announcement last week that he is resigning from the Ohio Senate as of Jan. 31, almost a full year before his term expires.

Widener, R-Springfield, has been the Senate’s number two in command and a member of the powerful state Controlling Board. He is the former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who last year was paid an $86,164 base salary plus at least one $5,000 stipend for being the vice chairman of the Senate Rules and Reference committee.

Widener on Dec. 7 met with Sean Creighton and Dusty Hall of the Southwestern Ohio Council on Higher Education to pitch his consulting services plan to SOCHE members, which include Wright State University, Central State University and other public colleges.

In a 12-page document dated Oct. 26, 2015, Widener proposed that his private architecture firm, WDC Group LLC, would identify military experience, education and training that could be translated into college credit for veterans.

Widener said in the proposal that within 30 days, he would solicit “input from trusted, knowledge sources” from within state agencies and universities to gather data.

‘I have no comment’

When approached on Wednesday in the Statehouse for comment about his pitch to SOCHE, Widener said: “I have no comment. I don’t care what your question is, I have no comment.”

Without speaking to Widener’s situation, Ohio Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe said “Ohio ethics laws preclude legislators from using their official influence to authorize or approve a contract in which they have an interest.”

Lawmakers are advised to steer clear of voting on, debating or otherwise participating in matters that involve entities with which they are seeking employment or contracts, he said.

It is not illegal to seek consulting work from public universities that have interests pending before the state — as long as the rules are followed, Bledsoe said.

Creighton said Widener indicated the consulting work is something he would like to do once he was out of public office. Widener did not say during that meeting if or when he would leave office, Creighton said.

Widener’s pitch to SOCHE called for the work to begin Jan. 2, 2016, and conclude Dec. 31.

Creighton said SOCHE is studying the merits of the proposal, examining what its members are already doing in the area of helping veterans earn college credit for military experience, and weighing whether to move forward with Widener or some other entity.

“It is a bit of a hot topic so we’re interested in how we can go more deeply into that area,” Creighton said.

In June 2013, Gov. John Kasich issued an executive order directing the Board of Regents to work with public university presidents to streamline the process for awarding college credit for military education by veterans and service members.

In July 2014, Widener was among a group of lawmakers, military leaders and higher education officials who held an event at Wright State University on the importance of transferring military training to college credit and industry credentials.

“The companies are going to provide the jobs,” Widener told the group. “Now our chore as community leaders throughout this region is to ensure that we have proper alignment and connecting all the points to make sure we have enough employees to apply for those jobs.

“We are going to solve this issue working together,” he said. “No one’s going to solve it working on their own. It’s too big of an issue.”

Nearly 900,000 veterans and 80,000 service members live in Ohio and 22,000 are attending college on federal veteran benefits in Ohio, according to the Kasich administration.

Widener said in his statement announcing his resignation that he would focus on his design and construction business as well as other issues.

“I plan to work for the quality and affordability of public education, giving students the skills they need to fill available jobs in the current Ohio market, working to insure that our veterans receive credit for their military training and education, and continuing to advocate for further investments in a healthy outcome for all Ohioans,” he said in his statement.

Staff writer Josh Sweigart contributed to this report.

Reader Comments

Next Up in News

Crash has right lane blocked on I-75 S in Miamisburg
Crash has right lane blocked on I-75 S in Miamisburg
The right lane is blocked after a crash on I-75 South near the exit for Ohio 725.Miamisburg police and emergency crews responded to the scene at 4:08...
Mercer County sheriff pursuing charges in social media threats case
Mercer County sheriff pursuing charges in social media threats case
A Birmingham, Mich., man’s threats and “condescending” communications to his family and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office through social media, as...
DeWine calls for grassroots effort to combat heroin
DeWine calls for grassroots effort to combat heroin
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told more than 220 first responders at an addiction forum Tuesday that it will take a grassroots effort from every...
You probably shouldn't let your dog lick your face
You probably shouldn't let your dog lick your face
As adorable as our dogs are, letting them lick us on the face isn't a good idea. The New York Times reported that, according to experts, there are...
Butler County finds new ways to make nursing home viable
Butler County finds new ways to make nursing home viable
Selling bed licenses and closing the adult day services program are two ways the Butler County Care Facility is hoping to better its bottom line by...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on