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‘Dark money’ in politics is the focus of Ohio legislation, resolutions

“... It is clear that without changes at the federal and state level, dark money will continue to erode public trust and the legitimacy of our democracy,” state Sen. Teresa Fedor said.
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COLUMBUS — An Ohio Senate committee is considering a resolution aimed at increasing transparency in federal elections, one of several similar bills before lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 17 “is an effort to get Congress to ensure transparency and accountability in federal election campaigns,” state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, said in prepared testimony to the state Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. “We must establish as many checks and balances as possible to protect the integrity of the democratic process and maintain the trust of our constituency.

“By requiring corporations and other organizations to disclose the sources of all contributions they use to make political expenditures, as well as the recipients of all political contributions, and all independent expenditures –– we can ensure transparency and stop foreign money from interfering in our election process,” Fedor added.

The sudden interest in combating “dark money” in the Buckeye State follows the arrest and indictment of former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four others as part of an alleged $60 million public corruption racketeering conspiracy to pass House Bill 6, a ratepayer-funded bailout of two nuclear power plants.

“We have all seen the consequences of unchecked campaign contributions in recent events at both the federal and state level,” Fedor said. “... It is clear that without changes at the federal and state level, dark money will continue to erode public trust and the legitimacy of our democracy.”

The resolution is one of several similar measures that lawmakers are considering.

Another measure, House Bill 762, sponsored by state Reps. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland, and Mark Fraizer, R-Newark, requires nonprofit entities, organizations and corporations to disclose the sources of funds they receive and use for or against an issue or candidate in an Ohio election.

“We must get rid of dark money influence in Ohio,” Grendell said in a news release. “This bill removes dark money in Ohio’s politics and increases our political donation transparency. The current laws are surely outdated, and undisclosed funds for or against political candidates has remained an issue in our state for far too long. Now is the time to fix this problem.”

The so-called “Light of Day” bill is awaiting a committee assignment. Last month, Grendell introduced a resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 36, urging Congress to mandate corporations and labor organizations to disclose their donors’ identities if they make political expenditures.

Meanwhile, another bill, House Bill 737, would bring Ohio into compliance with the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission. That bill is pending before the state House State and Local Government Committee.

— Story courtesy of The Center Square.