New Project Launches Ahead of Groundhog Day to Educate Ohioans on “Ohio’s History of Corruption”

COLUMBUS, OH — Today, Common Cause Ohio shares a snapshot of Ohio’s history of corruption as part of its ongoing campaign to educate Ohioans on the Householder/House Bill 6 racketeering trial and the reforms needed for greater transparency in government.

Ohioans are tired of watching the parade of scandals year after year, while their lawmakers refuse to take action. Sometimes looking back is the best way to look forward. Common Cause Ohio revisits five public scandals, their outcomes,and how some key players still haven’t learned their lessons.

“Groundhog Day is here,’’ said Common Cause Ohio’s Executive Director Catherine Turcer. “But unlike the old Bill Murray movie, what’s happening day after day in Ohio isn’t funny at all. Ohioans are sick of it.’’

Turcer urges policymakers to look closely at a few of Ohio’s notable scandals and enact reforms to end the cycle of corruption.

Common Cause Ohio’s latest push for structural change comes as former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges stand trial for racketeering as it relates to HB 6 and dark money

“For real accountability, Ohio needs real transparency,” Turcer said. “Otherwise, the current Householder and House Bill 6 scandal simply becomes a tutorial for misdeeds in Ohio lobbying and elections.”

Ohio has the power to keep history from continuing to repeat itself by adopting the package of reforms that Common Cause Ohio originally proposed in its 2020 Blueprint for Democracy. Reforms include:

  • Requiring transparency and disclosure of political advertisements to “shine a light on dark money” in elections.
  • Giving the public access to records at Ohio’s bill-writing agency, the Legislative Service Commission.
  • Ensuring that members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the panel that nominates them are conflict free.
  • Strengthening transparency in lobbying so the public is able to “follow the money.” 

In addition to Common Cause Ohio’s recommendations, other advocates and policy experts have suggested additional meaningful reforms.

According to the Energy and Policy Institute, policymakers should ban utilities from charging customers for their political operations and make it harder for them to conduct corrupt schemes. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, who serves as the legal advocate for residential customers, has called for many reforms, including changes to the way Ohio selects people to serve on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

“We ought to be able to learn from our history. Re-examining Coingate and how the Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow scheme transpired make it clear that we aren’t learning from our mistakes,” said Turcer. “The Groundhog Day movie taught us that it’s never too late to make a significant change. Greater transparency will lead to greater accountability and a government that focuses on the needs of Ohioans rather than their benefactors.”

Common Cause Ohio has been a leading voice for government accountability for five decades, and works toward transparency and putting power back in the hands of Ohioans. See how we’re shining a light on dark money as we continue to follow the House Bill 6/Householder Enterprise Racketeering Trial.

For a PDF version of “A Brief History of Ohio Corruption” with footnotes, click here.