There was booze, a hot tub and women in bikinis, and at least one ended up naked. But there was no evidence that four Industrial Commission of Ohio hearing officers were present when the woman disrobed, according to a report released yesterday by Ohio's top watchdog.
There was booze, a hot tub and women in bikinis, and at least one ended up naked.
But there was no evidence that four Industrial Commission of Ohio hearing officers were present when the woman disrobed, according to a report released yesterday by Ohio’s top watchdog.
The report by the office of Inspector General Randall J. Meyer chided the state workers for creating the appearance of impropriety by attending a party hosted by two lawyers who represent clients before the hearing officers.
Meyer found no violations of state law and policy accompanying the “open cabin” party at Maumee State Park near Toledo on Sept. 8, but wrote that the “nature of the gathering appeared to be questionable.”
The inspector general recommended that the actions of the hearing officers be reviewed to determine whether they should be disciplined. The Industrial Commission is reviewing the report to determine what, if any, action to take, spokesman Adam Gibbs said.
The inspector general’s office received an anonymous tip that sexual favors were provided, but found the allegation to be unsubstantiated.
The lawyers who staged the party were identified as Tom Stefanik and John Christie of the Cleveland law firm of Stefanik & Christie.
The Cleveland-area hearing officers — Gary Bash, Mike Brown, Michael Dobronos and Milutin Zlojutro — said they saw at least woman in a bikini at the party, but saw no nudity.
They said at least one woman was in a hot tub with both of the lawyers and that they did not consume any of the provided food or alcohol. One of the women worked for the lawyers, and the other two apparently were her friends.
One hearing officer, who was not from the Cleveland area and not cited in the report, said he received a text message about 2 a.m. from one of the lawyers, who said “something about the girls being naked.” He said he did not reply.
One of the lawyers, who was not identified, admitted to the inspector general that he sent the text, but said no state employees were present at the time of the nudity, which “was something that just happened.”
Christie, one of the lawyers, said that he was “not aware of any impropriety or any nudity. The finding that nothing improper took place is the appropriate finding.” His partner, Stefanik, could not be reached for comment.
The party occurred in conjunction with a meeting conducted at the park by the Industrial Commission, which hears appeals of worker and employer claim rulings by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.