July 19, 2011 •
Will be offered for various service providers
The Cuyahoga County Executive and Inspector General, in collaboration with the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio have announced plans to offer additional vendor ethics training courses.
The first vendor ethics course was offered for construction vendors only. Training sessions will soon be scheduled for health and human services providers, professional services providers, and miscellaneous service providers.
May 3, 2011 •
State and Federal Communications will be attending the Ohio Bar Association’s Annual Convention from May 4-6.
We would love to see you! Come visit us at booth #5 in the exhibit hall, right next to the voter registration. Or, chat with some of us in the OSBA conference classes Wednesday evening, Thursday, and Friday morning.
Here is a link to the event.
February 24, 2011 •
Contribution limits for political activity at the state level will increase on February 25, 2011. The figures are updated every two years to reflect changes in inflation.
The new limits, which will be in effect through February 24, 2013, feature very modest increases in each category. For instance, an individual may now donate $11,543.70 to a PAC, a statewide candidate, or state-level legislative candidate; the previous amount was $11,395.56. Maximum individual contributions to statewide parties increased from $34,186.68 to $34,631.11.
Contribution limits for judicial candidates will remain at current levels.
February 16, 2011 •
Elizabeth Bartz reports campaign finance news from Akron, Ohio.
In 1998, State and Federal Communications worked with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic’s blue ribbon committee reviewing campaign contribution limits. Unfortunately, city voters approved very low contribution limits and it has taken 12+ years for a charter change to increase them.
On Monday, city council approved legislation increasing the limits for contributions from individuals for mayoral and at-large council candidates from $300 to $450 and ward council candidates from $100 to $200.
The city will continue to study other potential changes to Akron’s campaign finance guidelines.
December 30, 2010 •
News Rules Respond to Citizens United
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has announced permanent rules affecting the disclosure of corporate independent expenditures in Ohio.
The rules address the impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The new rules address campaign expenditures by corporations, nonprofit corporations and labor organizations by requiring disclosure of the amounts the groups spend for independent campaign advertisements for or against a candidate or committee.
Affected groups who make independent expenditures will now have to include their Internet web address in their ads and must also disclose their ads have not been authorized by a candidate or committee. Independent expenditures by corporations or businesses with 20 percent or more foreign ownership are prohibited by the new rules. Finally, corporations or businesses which have been awarded state or federal money will not be allowed to influence Ohio elections with independent expenditures within a year of the award.
“The Citizens United case now allows corporations to make independent expenditures for and against candidates in state and federal campaigns, “ said Secretary Brunner. “I am pleased Ohio has in place new rules so Ohioans will know who is trying to influence their votes in Ohio elections.”
The new rules take effect January 7, 2011. You may view the rules at the Register of Ohio Web site.
Photo of Ohio Statehouse by Alexander Smith on Wikipedia.
December 21, 2010 •
He starts January 1, 2011.
Paul M. Nick has been designated Interim Director of the Ohio Ethics Commission beginning January 1, 2011.
The Commission will meet on January 6, 2011 to formalize the appointment. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Ohio Ethics Commission was unable to convene with a required quorum on December 20, 2011 to select an Interim Director. After consulting with the Commission Chair, Ben Rose, Executive Director David Freel designated Mr. Nick to succeed him in the interim. The Ohio Ethics Commission has begun a search for a permanent replacement for Director Freel who retires at the end of this year.
Paul Nick currently serves as the Ohio Ethics Commission’s Chief Investigative Attorney and has held the position since 2000. Mr. Nick joined the Commission in 1995 as Investigative Counsel. Prior to his experience with the Commission, Mr. Nick was an Assistant City Prosecutor with the City of Columbus.
You may read the Ohio Ethics Commission press release announcing Mr. Nick’s appointment here.
November 9, 2010 •
David E. Freel, Executive Director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, has announced his retirement after 17 years at the head of the agency.
During Director Freel’s tenure, the Commission issued ethics advice and guidance concerning Ohio’s Ethics Law to thousands of Ohio’s public officials and employees. Director Freel also supervised hundreds of investigations of Ethics Law violations at the local and state levels.
“I have truly enjoyed my work with so many Ethics Commission members and professional staff of high integrity over the years – they represent the finest ethical standard in public service for Ohio and its citizens,” said Executive Director Freel. “After 17 years as the Executive Director, I decided several weeks ago that it was time to hand over the reins to a new Director the Commission would choose.”
The Commission will discuss the search and selection process for a new executive director at its November meeting. Director Freel will step down at the end of the year.
You may read the Ethics Commission’s press release here.
October 11, 2010 •
Akron City Council has approved a resolution of support for issues 11 to 17 which will appear on the November 2 ballot.
If approved, Issue 14 will require the council to pass legislation within 90 days amending the city’s campaign finance regulations. The caps on individual contributions would increase from $100 to $200 per candidate per election for ward candidates and from $300 to $450 for candidates for mayor and council members-at-large.
Also, the council will be required to hold mandatory public hearings every two years to revisit the city’s contribution limits to consider adjustments for inflation and costs of living.
September 21, 2010 •
A federal court has set aside the state’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures.
Under the consent decree signed by Judge George C. Smith, corporations may engage in express advocacy for or against a candidate for Ohio office. Corporations are still prohibited from making direct contributions to a candidate or working with a candidate on these independent expenditures. This order brings Ohio elections into compliance with the January “Citizens United” decision which held corporations have a First Amendment right to make independent expenditures.
The decision may have a major impact on Ohio’s campaign finance regulation because the statute in question contains a clause which states if any section of the law is deemed unconstitutional, the entire law is automatically repealed. A federal court will determine the validity of the remainder of the law next week.
September 9, 2010 •
Nine Cleveland-area doctors have filed a lawsuit in a Cleveland federal court challenging an Ohio law which says they cannot make political contributions to the Ohio Attorney General or local county prosecutors if they treat patients on Medicaid.
The plaintiffs, who wanted to make campaign contributions to the reelection campaign of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, allege the provisions of Ohio Revised Code section 3599.45 violates their First Amendment rights.
The plaintiffs are seeking an order from the U.S. District Court declaring the law unconstitutional as well as an order enjoining the Ohio Secretary of State from enforcing it.
September 2, 2010 •
A draft ethics code for the new Cuyahoga County government will be the subject of a public meeting later this month.
The proposed Cuyahoga County ethics code is the product of a review conducted by a working group of volunteers who reviewed the ethics practices of 13 similar counties. The proposed code includes provisions for lobbyist registration and reporting, campaign finance disclosure, and “pay-to-play” provisions for public contracts.
The code calls for a new five person entity called the Cuyahoga County Ethics Board which will oversee ethics education and enforcement as well as a County Ethics Officer who would be empowered to render advisory opinions, process and initiate ethics complaints, and conduct investigations.
Finally, the new code provides for whistleblower protection for county employees who report suspected illegal or unethical conduct.
August 17, 2010 •
Akron City Council voted Monday to place a campaign finance charter amendment before the voters this fall.
The amendment would increase the amounts an individual may contribute to a ward council candidate from $100 to $200 and at-large council and mayoral candidates from $300 to $450. The proposed amendment would also remove campaign finance language currently in the city charter.
If approved, council would have to replace the campaign finance charter provisions with an ordinance within three months time. Finally, council would be required to review campaign finance issues on a biennial basis with provisions made for public hearings as part of the review process.
Akron voters will vote on the proposed campaign finance charter amendment November 2nd.
August 13, 2010 •
The Supreme Court of Ohio has amended the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct regarding rules governing the solicitation of campaign contributions by judicial candidates.
Rule 4.4 continues to bar judicial candidates from personally receiving or soliciting campaign contributions, but, under the revisions announced Wednesday, two new exceptions are available to judicial candidates. First, a judicial candidate may make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of twenty or more persons. Second, a judicial candidate may sign letters soliciting campaign contributions if the letters are for distribution by the judicial candidate’s campaign committee and the letters direct contributions are to be sent to the campaign committee and not the judicial candidate.
The Justices voted 4-1 to amend Rule 4.4 with Justice Paul Pfeifer voting no and Chief Justice Eric Brown and Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger not participating as both are on the ballot this November. The Supreme Court’s move took place in response to a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which struck down similar rules for judicial candidates in Kentucky.
Here is the text from the announcement on the Ohio Supreme Court Web site:
The amended solicitation rule continues to bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting or receiving campaign contributions, but establishes two new exceptions to the personal solicitation ban. … Those exceptions are:
- “A judicial candidate may make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of twenty or more individuals;”
- “A judicial candidate may sign letters soliciting campaign contributions if the letters are for distribution by the judicial candidate’s campaign committee and the letters direct contributions to be sent to the campaign committee and not to the judicial candidate.”
The amendments to Rule 4.4 became effective on August 12, 2010.
Photo of the Ohio Judicial Center.
July 29, 2010 •
Akron City Council has approved legislation amending the city’s campaign finance law.
Under the new legislation, the city’s contribution limits of $300 for mayoral and at-large council candidates and $100 for ward council candidates do not apply when candidates are raising money outside of their own elections or reelections and other expenses such as “the duties of public office and seeking nomination or election to another office”.
The new legislation also lifts contribution limits for fundraising efforts by candidates for other candidates or for a political party.
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