ECOT Stops Advertising; Yost Continues Legal Efforts to Prevent Online School from Using Tax Dollars for Politicking

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Columbus – The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) notified Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office today that it was complying with Yost’s cease and desist order and had pulled its political advertising aimed at swaying the legislature and Ohio Department of Education.

While Auditor Yost believes ECOT’s decision to pull the advertising is a good first step, he said his office will continue seeking a court order prohibiting ECOT from using tax dollars for political activism in the future. At Yost’s request, the Attorney General’s office has assigned Special Counsel from the Bricker & Eckler law firm to obtain a preliminary injunction order.

Yost sent a letter to ECOT Friday (June 23) ordering it to cease and desist from using tax dollars in an attempt “to engender public sentiment in opposition to the recent actions of the Ohio Department of Education, and to encourage legislative action in response to those actions.” Yost said such uses “cannot be justified as advancing a proper public purpose and are impermissible.”

A spokesman for ECOT had told The Columbus Dispatch that the online school was using ECOT’s public funds to pay for the ad campaign. Today, however, ECOT told Auditor Yost the online school was not paying for the ads. 

ECOT has been ordered to repay the state more than $60 million for undocumented student attendance. It had aired advertisements about the repayment order, which continued through Thursday. 

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The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies.  Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.

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