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Ohio voters have a choice: reform or more scandal

Mary Boyle: (202) 736-5770
Henry Eckhart:  (614) 461-0984

If one needed more evidence that Ohio politics is corrupt, look no further than Gov. Bob Taft (R), who on Thursday was fined $4,000 and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges stemming from his failure to disclose more than 50 golf outings, dinners and other gifts he received.

"Ohioans know beyond a shade of a doubt now that we must clean up the corrupt political culture in the state," said Henry Eckhart of Common Cause Ohio. "The first step in that direction will be for voters to adopt reforms in the next election that will bring greater transparency and accountability to state government."

Common Cause is working with Reform Ohio Now (RON) to pass four common sense initiatives that will be on the ballot in November and are aimed at restoring reasonable campaign contribution limits, putting redistricting in the hands of an independent commission, establishing nonpartisan administration of elections and allowing for no-fault absentee balloting.

Taft, who made ethics a centerpiece of his administration, is the highest-ranking Ohio politician to fall victim to scandal, but there have been many other recent problems recently, including:

  • At least $10 million missing from the state worker's compensation fund.
  • A Taft friend and Republican fund-raiser, Thomas Noe, is at the center of an investigation into some of the missing money, as well as his unorthodox investing of worker's comp funds in rare coins.
  • State legislators last year voted to raise to $10,000 from $2,000 the amount they can accept in campaign contributions.
  • Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (R), who also served as chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, repeatedly issued a series of highly questionable rulings (some of which were overturned by the courts) that appeared calculated to suppress Democratic votes.

"Ohio voters have a choice in November," Eckhart said. "They can support these common sense reforms and at least begin cleaning up the political corruption that has touched even our governor, or they can stick with the status quo - more scandal and citizens feeling distrustful of elected officials."