Senate proposes easing limits on donations to legislative committees


A late change to the state budget proposed by Ohio Senate Republicans would allow corporations and unions to begin giving money directly to state legislative campaign committees, as long as they pay for operating costs and not direct political activity.

Ohio Senate Republican spokesman John McClelland did not return a message seeking comment, but previously told the Columbus Dispatch the change would allow the campaign committees to operate independently of political parties. Mike Dittoe, a spokesman for Ohio House Republicans, said he has not heard of anyone expressing opposition to the change from within his caucus.

“I don’t know that that extra chair at the conference table is going to make or break any specific legislative race across the state,” he said.

But critics say the change would weaken campaign finance law and give special interests another backdoor way to buy their way into influencing elections.

“Yes, it’s not paying for advertising and no, it’s not paying for yard signs, but it’s pretty hard to get elected if you don’t have a telephone, and it’s pretty hard to get folks elected from the caucus if you don’t have a roof over your head,” said Catherine Turcer, a policy analyst for Common Cause Ohio, a left-leaning government watchdog group.

Under current law, only state and county political parties can accept money directly from corporations and unions, as long it’s not used to pay for the construction, renovation or purchase of office facilities that are not used solely to directly influence elections for any individual candidate.

But the change, inserted into the senate version of the state budget earlier this month, would also allow unions and corporations to give to the state’s four legislative caucuses: the House Democratic Caucus Fund, the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee, the Ohio Senate Democrats and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. It would also broaden the limits of what the money could be used for to “general operating costs” of an office.

Unlike political contributions, the gifts would have no specific dollar limits, but couldn’t comprise more than 10 percent of the committee’s overall operating costs.

The amendment is one of dozens state lawmakers are considering as they reconcile competing versions of the state budget from the senate and Ohio House. The budget proposal will be sent to Ohio Gov. John Kasich for his signature by the end of this month.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Springfield sewer rates to go up to pay for $250M upgrades
Springfield sewer rates to go up to pay for $250M upgrades

The city of Springfield residents may pay may for sewer services next year to pay for more than $80 million in federally mandated projects designed to cut down on raw sewage overflows into local waterways. Earlier this year, sewer rates increased 7 percent, bringing the total monthly utility bill for water, sewer and stormwater for a typical home in...
Clark County to spend $140K for consultant for combined 9-1-1 center
Clark County to spend $140K for consultant for combined 9-1-1 center

Clark County will spend $140,000 to hire a consultant to oversee the process of creating a unified countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center. Clark County commissioners voted unanimously this week to hire Fairfax, Va.-based Federal Engineering Inc. to help it transition from its current location at the Clark County Jail to the Springview Government Center....
Should Springfield ban smoking in cars with kids?
Should Springfield ban smoking in cars with kids?

A smoking ban in cars with children in Springfield could be problematic because it would only be in effect in the city limits, local leaders said, but they’re willing to talk about it. The city of Honolulu sparked a national debate on Oct. 18 when the city’s council voted unanimously to enact a ban on smoking and use of electronic cigarettes...
Springfield replaces 14,000-pound water valve from the 1920s
Springfield replaces 14,000-pound water valve from the 1920s

City workers removed a 14,000-pound water valve that was nearing 100 years old this week and replaced it with a new one. The valve on Lexington Avenue may have been part of the original water line, Springfield City Director Chris Moore said. Workers were able to get the valve out and replaced in one day. READ: Springfield medical marijuana ban ends...
O’Neill’s boast of sexual liaisons brings calls for his resignation
O’Neill’s boast of sexual liaisons brings calls for his resignation

A Facebook post touting his sexual exploits with “50 very attractive females” Friday had colleagues expressing shock and political opponents calling for Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill to resign.   “I condemn in no uncertain terms Justice O’Neill’s Facebook post. No words can convey my shock,&rdquo...
More Stories