A public interest law firm has filed a lawsuit in Richland County common pleas court accusing the Strickland administration of “an unlawfully cozy relationship” with labor unions that continues to put millions of dollars for school construction at risk of being wasted.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed a 31-page complaint on behalf of taxpayers in the Madison Local and Shelby City school districts.

Named as defendants were Gov. Ted Strickland, Executive Director Richard Murray of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, and others.

The 1851 Center said in a news release that the lawsuit charges the unions and Mr. Murray of using “bribery, intimidation, and obstruction of justice to further union financial interests, through projects funded by the OSFC, while the Strickland administration aided and abetted the conduct for its own political gain.”

Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center, said it “appears as though union influence over the Strickland administration caused the firing” of previous OSFC Director Michael Shoemaker, “with either the instructions or the implicit understanding that Murray would run rough-shod over taxpayers and school districts to benefit union allies.”

The lawsuit is an attempt to prohibit future distribution of state funds through the OSFC to finance project labor agreements and projects that pay prevailing union wages.