Controlling Board OKs $3.2M for Ohio National Guard protest responses

Columbus street protest
National Guard troops at Third and Gay streets in Columbus Sunday. As with other American cities, Columbus has been the scene of mass protest since George Floyd died during his arrest in Minneapolis last month. Ohio Capital Journal photo by Marty Schladen

Gov. DeWine had deployed Ohio National Guard to Cleveland, Columbus, D.C.

Taxpayers will foot the multi-million dollar bill for the Ohio National Guard’s response to recent protests in Cleveland and Columbus.

The total cost as approved by the Ohio Controlling Board on Monday comes to $3.2 million for the deployments beginning on May 30. 

Gov. Mike DeWine had stationed over 1,000 members of the guard in the two Ohio cities at the request of their mayors. Clashes between protesters and local police departments had escalated in the preceding days. DeWine said at the time he was sending in the National Guard “to drive out hate and violence and to instill order.”

DeWine also sent 100 members of the guard to D.C. at the request of the Secretary of Defense. Ohio was one of nearly a dozen states to send their respective guards to Washington. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser later asked DeWine to remove those Ohio guard members, and shortly after President Donald Trump ordered them to return home. 

The funding approved by the Ohio Controlling Board only pays for active duty in this state, according to Stephanie Beougher, the public information officer for the Adjutant General’s Department.

“The support to the District of Columbia National Guard was federally funded,” Beougher added.

One Ohio guard member sent to D.C. was suspended and sent home early after it was discovered the guardsman had expressed white supremacist ideology online. 

DeWine announced on June 10 the guard would be pulled out of Columbus and Cleveland as well. 

The Ohio Controlling Board met Monday afternoon to vote on more than 100 funding requests. The Board is made up of the Office of Budget and Management’s director, along with six legislators from both parties and both chambers. 

One funding request came from the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department, which leads the Ohio National Guard.

That department requested $3.2 million “to support state active duty costs incurred as a result of civil unrest beginning May 30, 2020.”

Nearly all of that amount, $2.9 million, is allocated for payroll. Another $300,000 is for “supplies and maintenance.”

Asked if any of that $2.9 million paid for overtime, Beougher said: “Ohio National Guard members, whether on state active duty or federal deployment, do not accrue overtime or receive overtime pay.”

All members of the Ohio Controlling Board approved the funding, with the exception of state Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, who voted against. Sykes asked several questions about the National Guard’s work during a discussion preceding the vote with Jeff Newman, the chief financial officer for the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department.

“We try to be good stewards,” Newman said about funding. “Nobody’s getting rich on this deal.”

Newman described the cost as being “a matter of supply and demand, and the people with the supply often have us over a barrel.” He noted the high costs of feeding and housing more than 1,000 guard members in multiple cities. 

Note: This story has been updated to include details from a public information officer to the Adjutant General’s Department. Also, an original version of this story incorrectly stated the Ohio Controlling Board funding paid for duty in Ohio and Washington, D.C.; as now reported, the funding pays only for duty in Ohio.