The certified public accountant who is one of the five members of the Ohio Republican Party’s Central Committee suing the state party and its chairman, told The Ohio Star and The Star News Network former state party chairwoman Jane E. Timken does not have the moral courage nor integrity required to represent Ohio as a U.S. senator.
“If she could not effectively run an organization like the Ohio Republican Party, I do not believe she could be an effective senator or have any understanding of the federal budget or the complicated issues faced by a U.S. senator,” said Mark A. Bainbridge, who retired from Ernst & Young after a three-decade career there as a partner.
“Fortunately, we have a number of other Republican candidates who are better qualified to support conservative policies in the United States Senate,” Bainbridge said.
Bainbridge has an insider’s perspective on Timken’s leadership of the Ohio Republican Party, based on his own interactions with the Senate candidate and his personal efforts to make sense of the party’s finances from before his 2020 election to the Central Committee.
“I would characterize Jane’s leadership style as resistant to change and innovation, valuing loyalty over competence, lacking integrity, humility and self-awareness, and an unwillingness to attract and retain people that would provide expertise that would complement her own expertise,” he said.
Timken’s lack of integrity hurt the Ohio Republican Party and made her unworthy of the Senate, he said.
“Integrity is probably the most important character trait of a good leader,” he said.
The most damning episode illustrating Timken’s lack of integrity was her failed attempt to audit the state party’s books with the firm CliftonLarsonAllen, he said.
“Timken went to extreme measures to deceive the Audit Committee and get her hometown accounting firm, CLA, that prepares her own personal tax return and performs accounting and tax work for the Timken family businesses, selected as the auditors for the ORP,” he said.
“Jane was not honest with the Audit Committee and violated her fiduciary responsibility to disclose this conflict of interest,” he said.
It was absurd for her to even attempt such a move, and there was no way the firm could complete the audit once their connection to the Timken family and its businesses was exposed, he said.
“Because of this conflict of interest and the un-auditable state of the ORP’s financial records, CLA resigned from performing an audit of the Ohio Republican Party’s financial statements in September 2021, and an audit still has not been performed for at least the last 16 years.”
Bainbridge: Timken’s handling of 2017 Rightside Compliance report a missed opportunity
“In 2017, then-ORP Chairman Jane Timken spent approximately $50,000 to hire the Rightside Compliance consulting firm that issued a 32-page devastating report about the ORP’s financial operations,” Bainbridge said.
“If Timken had asked a competent CPA to spend 30 minutes looking at the ORP financial statements, he or she could have provided Timken with all the recommendations provided in the Rightside Compliance report – recommendations Timken did not implement, and the ORP still has not implemented,” he said.
“Jane had the opportunity and failed to act,” he said.
“At the time, before he started a political lobbying firm, Jane’s husband was the CEO of Timken Steel,” he said. “Jane could have asked Timken Steel’s chief financial officer or independent audit firm what actions she should take based on the Rightside Compliance report.”
He said that Timken held everything close and did not seek a collaborative process.
“She obviously did not seek advice from any experts,” he said. “Instead, she locked the report in a filing cabinet and falsely told the state Central Committee that all the recommendations had been implemented.”
Bainbridge said not only did Timken waste $50,000 on the most basic recommendations, but she could have used the money to get to the root of the party’s inaccurate financial reporting.
“That $50,000 could have been used to hire CPAs to implement all the significant recommendations and then hire CPAs to audit the 2017 ORP financial statements,” he said.
“The irony is that the Ohio Republican Party is now paying two very expensive law firms hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight a lawsuit from the ORP’s own board members who are demanding an audit of the ORP financial statements for 2017 and subsequent years,” he said. “What an incredible misuse of funds.”
Bainbridge said although he was not a member of the Central Committee prior to 2020, he has made himself familiar with how Timken and her staff failed to implement the Rightside Compliance report and sealed it from wider release – going so far as to restrict access to the report from Central Committee members and other stakeholders.
The CPA said there were five steps the chairwoman could have taken right away to bring the Ohio Republican Party up to professional standards.
“Timken disregarded the significant recommendations in the report, including: first, establishing internal controls; second, transforming the financial statements so they comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP); third, developing effective audit procedures; fourth, developing meaningful accounting policies and procedures, particularly related to compliance with federal and state campaign finance reporting; and fifth, establishing a segregation of duties,” he said.
Her failure to act on the report meaningfully was compounded by her decision not to hire the necessary internal professionals to correct and maintain the Ohio Republican Party’s financial records.
“Jane should have hired a CPA firm to implement the report recommendations and hired another CPA firm to audit the ORP’s financial statements; she also should have hired a qualified CFO as required by ORP bylaws,” he said.
“She ignored the suggestion to hire a competent chief financial officer or even a bookkeeper,” he said, which is why there were material misstatements in the financial statements beginning in 2017, and Timken failed to hire a CPA firm to perform an audit of the ORP’s financial statements to determine if the financial statements were in accordance with GAAP and receive an assessment of internal controls.”
Bainbridge said it never made sense to him that Timken, the new leader of an organization, would not act quickly and effectively to fix the organization’s problems.
“Why would a new CEO hide these issues and not work with the elected governing board to solve these problems internally within the state party’s Central Committee?” he asked. “It does not make sense.”
The CPA said he has the same questions about current state party Chairman Robert A. Paduchik, whose intransigence led Bainbridge and four others to petition the courts for a remedy.
Bainbridge: Paduchik, like Timken, allowed problems to fester
“When Bob Paduchik was made chairman in February 2021, I tried numerous times to work with him on the financial reporting inaccuracies, and challenges,” Bainbridge said.
“He chose to ignore the issues, just as Timken had,” he said.
“Paduchik’s failure to take any action left us no alternative other than to file suit,” he said. “It is an incredible failure on Paduchik’s part that this could not be resolved within the ORP, rather than in the public domain.”
After he was elected to the Central Committee in 2020, Bainbridge said that he naturally gravitated toward the Audit Committee and the opportunity to contribute his decades of experience to the state party.
However, he said he soon recognized that Paduchik, who replaced Timken in February 2021, and his allies, were not any more interested in fixing the state party’s financial structures than Timken and her team.
“In August 2021, just after being elected to the State Central Committee and reading the devastating Rightside Compliance consulting report, I understood that none of the report’s significant recommendations had been implemented,” he said.
“I talked to the chairman of the Audit Committee, Curt Braden, and he clearly did not understand his fiduciary duties as an Audit Committee member,” he said.
“Unbelievably, the Audit Committee had not even met after Timken received the 2017 Rightside Compliance consulting report to hire a CPA firm to perform an audit or determine if the 2017 recommendations had been implemented and were functioning effectively,” he said.
Although Bainbridge said he was encouraged to join the Audit Committee, he declined because he was concerned his association with the rampant financial mismanagement would jeopardize his professional standing and credentials.
“Basically, I wrote a letter to Jane Timken that I would not jeopardize my professional reputation and CPA license by being on such a non-functioning Audit Committee that had failed to perform its fiduciary responsibilities,” he said.
“However, I did volunteer to serve on the Fiscal Review Committee, the committee responsible for correcting the problems,” he said.
In October 2021, Paduchik removed Bainbridge and the other four plaintiffs from the Fiscal Review and Audit Committees, which they claim in their lawsuit was a violation of the state party’s bylaws.
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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network based in Washington. He is an Army Reserve public affairs NCO and an Iraq War veteran. Send him news tips: [email protected] Follow him on TruthSocial & GETTR: @ReporterMcCabe
Photo “Jane Timken” by Jane Timken For U.S. Senate.