Press Release: Attorney General-Elect Yost Makes First Round of Senior Staff Announcements

COLUMBUS (Dec. 18, 2018) – Attorney General-elect Dave Yost today announced the appointment of several senior members of his incoming legal, management and operations teams. 

Selecting individuals with broad experience across government and the private sector, Yost named his first assistant attorney general, chief of staff, chief counsel, deputy first assistant attorney general, director of major litigation, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, director of outside counsel and executive director of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. Additional appointments to Yost’s senior staff will be announced in a subsequent news release.

“I promised Ohioans my service as their attorney general would be devoted to protecting our most vulnerable, and ensuring the equal application of the law,” said Yost. “The talented individuals announced today will help me honor this pledge. They have all distinguished themselves in their previous roles. As attorney general, I will be proud to have them serve by my side.”  

Brenda L. Rinehart will be first assistant attorney general. She currently serves as chief of staff to Auditor Yost. Rinehart has worked at all levels of government, including as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. In the U.S. Attorney’s office, Rinehart handled civil litigation and bankruptcy matters in federal court as well as assisting with select criminal litigation. She has been a practicing attorney since 1988.

Benjamin Marrison will be chief of staff. He currently serves as director of communications and senior adviser to Auditor Yost. Marrison was editor and a senior executive of The Columbus Dispatch, overseeing all news operations for the newspaper and its websites. Marrison also served as Statehouse bureau chief for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and was a reporter at The (Toledo) Blade. 

D. Michael Grodhaus will be chief counsel. He currently serves as chief counsel to Gov. John Kasich. Grodhaus previously served as first assistant attorney general to Attorney General Jim Petro and chief counsel to Auditor Petro. He has more than 34 years of legal experience in the public and private sectors. 

Jonathan Fulkerson will be deputy first assistant attorney general. He currently serves as deputy chief counsel for Attorney General Mike DeWine. A 20-year veteran of the attorney general’s office, Fulkerson has served in various criminal and civil sections where he argued cases in federal and state courts. He currently supervises attorneys in the worker’s compensation, public utilities, civil rights, health and human services, executive agencies and taxation sections of the attorney general’s office.  

Jonathan Blanton will be director of major litigation. He currently serves as chief of the Consumer Protection Section for Attorney General DeWine, where he oversees ongoing litigation against opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical distributors. Blanton served as deputy director for investigations and enforcement and interim executive director of the State Medical Board. He has spent over 13 years prosecuting criminal cases, including 10 years as the Jackson County Prosecutor. 

Gregory Jackson will be chief operating officer. He currently serves as chief information officer at the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Jackson has previously served as chief information officer for the State of Ohio, Department of Medicaid and Department of Taxation. In addition to his government agency experience, Jackson served 16 years in the private sector for Xerox, CGI and IBM Global Services.

Jay Easterling will be chief financial officer. He currently serves as deputy director of the Department of Job and Family Services’ Office of Contracts and Acquisitions. Easterling has also served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the attorney general; chief financial officer for the auditor of state; and fiscal officer for the Ohio State Employment Relations Board. He is a certified public accountant and certified government financial manager. 

Shawn Busken will be director of outside counsel. He currently serves as policy director for Auditor Yost. Busken previously worked as a labor and employment law attorney in the law firm of Blaugrund, Kessler, Myers & Postalakis. He served in the Ohio Senate as a legislative aide to former Senators Steve Stivers and Keith Faber. He also served in the Columbus City Prosecutor’s office. 

Rocky W. Nelson will continue as executive director of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. Nelson was appointed to his current position by Attorney General DeWine in 2011. He previously served as the Union County Sheriff. He is an active member of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the FBI National Academy Associates. Nelson is a past president of the Ohio Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates.

Yost will be sworn in as Ohio’s 51st attorney general on Monday, January 14. He currently serves as Auditor of State. Yost served for eight years as the Delaware County Prosecutor, winning the first capital murder case in the county’s history and taking down the county’s largest drug ring. He is also a former county auditor, city council member and award-winning journalist.

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