October 11, 2010 •
Akron: Council endorses Issue 14: Municipal Campaign Finance Reform
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 •
Corporations Get Approval for Independent Expenditures in Ohio Elections
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contains a clause which states if any section of the law is deemed unconstitutional, the entire law is automatically repealed.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 •
Ohio – Doctors Challenge Contribution Restrictions
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 •
Proposed Cuyahoga County Ethics Code to Be Debated
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 Campaign Finance Charter Amendment on Fall Ballot
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 •
Ohio Supreme Court: Judicial candidates may seek contributions
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 Campaign Finance Legislation Passed
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.
Watch for more news on the Akron City Council Web site and at Ohio.com.
July 16, 2010 •
Proposed Campaign Finance Reform in Cuyahoga County
Mason submits campaign finance and lobbying recommendations for new Cuyahoga County Government.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and the Campaign Finance Reform Committee, which convened in March 2010 to study campaign finance reform issues in Cuyahoga County, have announced four recommendations that will be forwarded to the new Cuyahoga County government due to take office on January 1, 2011. The recommendations include the establishment of an electronic filing system for campaign finance reports, the establishment of a lobbyist registry for Cuyahoga County, and the establishment of campaign contribution limits for county-wide offices. Finally, the committee recommends the new county government adopt a Clean Elections Act which would implement a voluntary, publicly funded campaign financing option for candidates for Cuyahoga County offices. Mason hopes the new county government will take up the recommendations quickly once it takes office next year.
Here are some resources for further reading:
Cuyahoga County Charter Transition Advisory Group Web site
New campaign finance rules proposed for Cuyahoga County, by Kevin Niedermier at WKSU
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announces campaign finance reforms, by Laura Johnston at the Cleveland Plain Dealer
July 13, 2010 •
Commission Proposes Removing Campaign Finance Reform from Akron Charter
The City of Akron Charter Review Commission has issued its final report to city council.
Among the recommendations submitted to the council is a proposal to remove campaign finance reform from the City Charter. The commission found, with one exception, campaign finance reform was not contained in the city charter of any other major Ohio city. Citing the need for periodic amendments to campaign finance legislation and the need to adjust campaign contribution limits from time to time to account for inflation, the commission recommended the city adopt future campaign finance regulations by means of ordinances rather than charter amendments. Given the potential complexity of the issues involved, commissioners concluded campaign finance regulations require a level of detail inappropriate for a charter. The Commission’s recommendations also include a mandatory review of campaign finance legislation every two years going forward. The review would include a public hearing to obtain public comment on any proposed changes to campaign finance ordinances. The proposal must now be passed by council and then submitted to Akron voters for final adoption.
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