I-Team uncovers video at statehouse that will have taxpayers talking

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COLUMBUS, Ohio-- An exclusive FOX 8 I-Team investigation has found some state lawmakers on the job spending time on Facebook, filling out birthday cards and more.

The I-Team spent a day in Columbus at the statehouse. We went to several state Senate committee hearings. And what we saw made us wonder if some lawmakers are paying attention to what's happening.

We went to a hearing about how to deal with kids skipping school. We watched Senator Frank LaRose filling out a pile of birthday cards. And we saw him using his phone.

So we asked why he wasn't paying attention.

LaRose defended himself saying, "Oftentimes we have the opportunity to multi-task. We have the written testimony. I've gone over it. Heard what the students had to say. And in the busy day that we have down here, we try to get done as many things as we can."

We saw Senator Tom Patton from Cuyahoga County on Facebook during a hearing. And we saw him appear to be texting.

We made multiple attempts to get a comment from Patton, and we received no response.

Another lawmaker appeared to be going through news links on his phone. And, at times, we saw multiple senators with phones in hand at once as citizens testified about things affecting your laws and tax dollars.

We also questioned Senator Mike Skindell from western Cuyahoga County. The I-Team watched him in hearings looking down with his phone in hand.

Skindell told us he's reading witness testimony on his iPad while using his phone for more.

Skindell said, "I'm viewing the legislation or the legislative analysis or fiscal analysis on my phone. Not only will I do that, but there are times when I'll be looking through Senate emails."

He added, "Is it any different from heads buried down in a stack of papers reviewing the legislation?"

A professor from Wright State University testified at one of those hearings where we watched many lawmakers using their phones.

Dr. Jason Fruth said, "I understand that they have a lot of things that they're trying to attend to at the same time. But I want them to recognize the passage of a bill; some of these small line items, are literally going to dictate the future for our children."

A man handling public relations for the state Senate later called to tell us that he didn't understand the news value of what we caught on camera. He predicted our story would lead to strict new rules about what TV crews can record in those hearings.

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