Ohio state House Representatives introduced two pieces of legislation Monday that aims to reform state campaign finance laws.
These bill proposals come a week after Speaker of the House Larry Householder and four other people were arrested by the FBI. These five men are accused of “worked to corruptly ensure that HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. The Enterprise received approximately $60 million into Generation Now from an energy company and its affiliates during the relevant period,” according to the DOJ press release.
The first bill called House Bill (HB) 737, which was introduced by State Reps. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), would update Ohio’s campaign finance laws to reflect changes the federal level made to campaign finance laws after the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission.
If the bill became law, it would place “additional reporting requirements on entities that make political contributions,” according to the state House of Representatives’ press release.
“We cannot continue down the path of what is, but should aspire to pursue what should be when it comes to campaign finance reform,” Manning said. “I believe that we must move past the unethical activities that we have recently discovered that went into House Bill 6 and push for a better, cleaner and trustworthy set of rules for Ohioans that we represent.
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who introduced a similar bill while he was a state senator, is glad to see this topic taken up again. Husted’s Senate bill 240 failed to pass the state legislature during the 128th General Assembly.
“I introduced this bill requiring transparency a decade ago, and if it had become law then, Ohio would be in a much better place today,” Husted said. “I appreciate the leadership of Rep. Gayle Manning in taking the initiative to introduce this bill again. Perhaps enough lessons have been learned to get it passed this time.”
The second piece of legislation, The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, would make dark money groups name their funders and disclose their spending, according to the bill’s press release.
In the bill introduced by state Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), it outlines three changes to Ohio campaign finance laws:
Close Dark Money Loopholes – Non-profit corporations like 501(c)(4)s and limited liability companies (LLCs) have become vehicles for big money special interests to hide their spending. These companies currently do not have to disclose their funders. The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act closes these loopholes, requiring these corporations and LLCs to disclose contributions meant to influence elections.
Require Transparency – The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act will strengthen disclosure by requiring corporations and LLCs to tell us more about their true owners and the actual source of funds behind the deceptively benign names of their organizations. The integrity of our democracy depends on openness and accountability.
Strengthen Ban on Foreign Money – Under the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, domestic corporations with foreign owners and decision makers will be banned from spending in our elections. Large foreign companies also won’t be able to get around our current foreign spending ban by opening an American subsidiary funded mostly with foreign money to spend unlimited sums in our elections.
“Recent allegations involving the Speaker and House Bill 6 demonstrate just how necessary serious campaign finance reform is,” Russo said. “This bill will strengthen transparency and accountability so that dark money and corruption cannot subvert the will of the people who elected us to serve. Ohioans deserve better from their government, and this bill ensures the best interests of our constituents remain front and center.”
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]. Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.
Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by MJ. CC BY-SA 4.0.