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Money from outside Ohio in Issue 1 battle renews calls for campaign finance law changes

A sign held over the heads of a crown in the Ohio Capitol reads, "Minority rule is unacceptable."
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Demonstrators in the state capitol in May carried signs opposing resolutions requiring 60% voter approval to amend Ohio's constitution. They also opposed a bill to create an August special election to vote on it.

Both sides in the fight over Issue 1, the proposed change to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments, have taken dollars for their campaigns from dark money groups. That’s leaving some to call on Ohio lawmakers to make changes to campaign finance laws rather than changing the voter approval threshold for constitutional amendments.

Dark money groups are political groups that don't have to make information about their donors public.

Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer wants to see campaign finance reform that requires these groups to give more information about their donors and, she added, Ohio lawmakers who back Issue 1 should demand it.

“They spent all of this time and energy trying to tell us how ‘special interests’ are trying to attack the constitution,” Turcer said.

Majority Republicans in the legislature need to protect Ohio’s constitution from anonymous special interest money, she said.

“One of the ways to do that is to actually create a much more transparent and robust campaign finance system, which they could do once they get back from their break,” Turcer said.

Turcer would like to see campaigns disclose information about those who give them money, but she said she also understands they won’t do that right now because it isn’t the law.

Around $20 million has been contributed to campaigns for and against Issue 1 so far, and 84% of that money has come from outside Ohio.

The official campaign fighting Issue 1 has raised about $15 million so far, with a third coming from groups outside Ohio who don’t have to reveal their individual donors.

Advocates for Issue 1, Protect Our Constitution, have raised about $5 million, with $4 million of that coming from one person - Richard Uihlein, a businessman from Illinois and Republican megadonor.

Both sides have received help from groups who are not part of the official campaigns. Some of the most recent help for Issue 1 comes from Protect Women Ohio, a group that’s opposed to the constitutional amendment that’s going to be on the November ballot to enshrine abortion rights into Ohio’s constitution. Protect Women Ohio launched a $5.5 million ad buy Tuesday for the last week of this campaign.

Early in-person and vote-by-mail is currently under way for the Aug. 8 election.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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