Democracy Advocates Call for the Closure of Dark Money Loopholes in Ohio

COLUMBUS: At a press conference today, advocates from the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio were joined by allies to speak in favor of improved disclosure laws in Ohio. “Dark Money” from undisclosed sources is behind an ad campaign against the attempt to referendum House Bill 6. This ad is designed to confuse and intimidate voters and highlights the need to shine a light on secret money.

“Disclosure provides the sunlight needed to hold candidates and campaigns accountable and to help voters make informed decisions,” said William Hershey. Hershey is a former Columbus Bureau Chief for the Dayton Daily News and a former Washington correspondent for the Akron Beacon Journal.

The aggressive decline-to-sign campaign demonstrates that Ohio desperately needs to update its campaign finance laws, which still do not reflect the new landscape after the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling

“Dark money magnifies the voices of special interests while misleading, confusing, and even scaring voters,” said Deborah Cooper of Worthington. “When citizens cannot trust the information they receive, their voices fade along with our democratic process.” Cooper is a retired public information manager who participated in the statewide signature collection for the citizen initiative to end gerrymandering in Ohio.

The group called for Ohio’s disclosure laws to be updated to include disclosure of the sources of funding for corporate activities in our elections. They specifically cited SB240, a disclosure bill introduced by then Senator Jon Husted that passed the Ohio Senate unanimously in 2010 but was not brought up in the House. Several of the legislators who vote affirmatively for SB240 are still serving in elected office in Ohio. 

“For our democracy to be strong, voters need to be informed, but dark money loopholes allow bad actors to intimidate and confuse the public with impunity,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters. “It’s time for the Ohio General Assembly to finally update campaign finance laws so that everyday Ohioans know where electoral campaigns are getting their money, how much they’ve raised, and how they are spending it.”

“Ohioans should be able to consider who is funding political advertisements,” said Catherine Turcer, Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio, “The source of campaign information helps voters examine the motivation of ads. Shining the light on ‘dark money’ will also encourage those funding these egregious ads to be more accountable.” 

Here are two fact sheets provided to the press:

How Dark Money is Polluting Ohio’s Energy Policy

A Primer on Dark Money

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. 

Since 1920, the League of Women Voters of Ohio has been a leader in empowering citizens and defending democracy. LWVO encourages active participation in elections by providing nonpartisan information about candidates, issues, and how to vote, while protecting and expanding people’s Ohioans to elections and their government.