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In 2020, Common Cause led a series of planning sessions centered around increased transparency and accountability in government. This work led to the multi-year effort of monitoring Former Speaker Larry Householder and House Bill 6 scandal – the largest public scandal in Ohio’s history and the increased advocacy for increased transparency in all levels of government and across public institutions.

Governmental ethics and transparency took center stage in July 2020 after former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested as part of a $60 million pay-to-play scandal involving the passage of House Bill 6, a huge bailout of nuclear plants owned by FirstEnergy – read more here.

And, at the end of October that same year, FirstEnergy’s CEO was fired only moments after two defendants in that same FirstEnergy case pled guilty – leaving Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to ask, “The only remaining question: ‘who else?’”

No elected official should prioritize their power over the people they represent – but to make sure this never happens again, we’ve got to make structural changes to increase accountability and transparency at the Ohio Statehouse.

We kicked off our massive transparency and government accountability push with a two-night virtual speakers’ series: Blueprint for Democracy: How We Can Stop Being Ripped Off.

What We Learned

During our first two events, attendees heard experts speak about key democracy reforms.

On Nov. 16, 2020, we heard from:

  • Shining a Light on Dark Money (Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Stetson University and Brennan Center for Justice Fellow)
  • Improving Ohio’s Whistleblower Laws (Fred Gittes, Gittes Law Group)
  • Discovering Who Really  Writes Legislation (Aristotle Hutras, the Cleisthenes Project and formerly, the Ohio Retirement Study Council)
  • Improving Direct Democracy (Elena Nunez, Common Cause)

You can read Common Cause activist Sandy Theis’s summary of the November 16th event here on our Democracy Wire Blog. You can also click here for the slides and the event recording.

During our second event, on Nov. 23, 2020, we heard from:

  • Restructuring the Public Utilities Commission (Professor Ned Hill, The Ohio State University)
  • Strengthening Lobbyist and Ethics Law (Kedric Payne, Campaign Legal Center)

Common Cause activist Sandy Theis also wrote a short summary of this event, which you can find here. You can click here for the slides and the recording of the November 23rd event.

We also hosted two additional events, where attendees had the opportunity to discuss dark money in greater depth.

Our Blueprint for Democracy: Community Discussion was held on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. It was an opportunity to learn more about the need for transparency – specifically in regard to political advertising, the legislative process, and lobbying activities.

You can also find the slides here.

We also partnered with the City Club of Cleveland to host a Blueprint for Democracy: Transparency and Accountability in the Ohio Statehouse event on Dec. 16, 2020. Attendees heard from Catherine Turcer, the Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio, as well as Kedric Payne and Ned Hill, who both spoke at our earlier Blueprint events.

You can find the event recording here.

If you have questions, please send an email to cturcer@commoncause.org

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