Now that our State House and Senate races have wrapped up, we need all hands on deck in our fight for pro-democracy, pro-transparency reforms at the Statehouse next session.
Governmental ethics and transparency took center stage a few months ago 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, 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 November 16th, 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)
During our second event, on November 23rd, 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.
In the coming weeks, we are hosting two more events, where attendees will have the opportunity to discuss dark money in greater depth.
Our Blueprint for Democracy: Community Discussion will be held on Monday, December 7th at 7 pm. It’ll be an opportunity to learn more about the need for transparency – specifically in regard to political advertising, the legislative process, and lobbying activities.
We’ll also discuss our options for achieving these transparency goals, including via legislation and direct democracy. You can register for our December 7th event here.
We are also partnering with the City Club of Cleveland to host Blueprint for Democracy: Transparency and Accountability in the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday, December 16th at 12 pm. You’ll hear 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.
If you have questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
Articles & Resources
Here are some helpful articles and resources we discussed during the Blueprint forums.
Content We’ve Created
- What is Dark Money, How Did We Get Here, & How Can We Finally Fix this Problem?
- Democracy on the Ballot with information about citizen-initiatives or signature-gathering efforts used to address redistricting reform and voting rights
Resources from Other Groups
- Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a resource for citizen reform efforts
- Bribery Charges in Ohio Illuminate the Dangers of Dark Money by Prof. Ciara Torres-Spelliscy
- End Secrecy On Legislation (December 4, 2020)
- Let More Light in to Disinfect Ohio Legislating (November 12, 2020)
- Groups want to open bill-writing records — and honor reporter Jim Siegel (November 22, 2020)
- Utility Regulator Targeted by FBI Saw a Whirlwind Rise (November 21, 2020)
- How a longtime critic of clean energy became Ohio’s top utility regulator (March 9, 2020)
- HISTORY: Remembering the Past – The Stature & Statue of Tom L. Johnson (July 2013)