Ohio senator's ties to nonprofit questioned

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A newspaper investigation has found a western Ohio state senator championed a 2009 budget amendment that financially benefited an agricultural nonprofit he co-founded and financially backed.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported Senate Finance Chairman Chris Widener's ties to the Ohio Equine and Agricultural Association Tuesday (http://bit.ly/T3jmAy ). The nonprofit was launched to build a livestock exposition center in Clark County, a project Widener's architecture firm designed and managed.

The Springfield Republican told the newspaper he quit the nonprofit's board and canceled a loan guarantee he provided for its startup before introducing his amendment. The legislation allowed the local convention facilities authority to charge a 3-percent bed tax that helped pay the nonprofit's expenses.

The newspaper reported $529,000 in back taxes were under investigation by the local prosecutor at the time.

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com