Statement from Common Cause Ohio Executive Director Catherine Turcer
Today marks one year since we witnessed the arrest of the former Ohio Speaker of the House and his associates in a $61 million bribery and racketeering case. Even after the largest scandal in the history of the state, we are nowhere closer to reigning in the influence of money in Ohio politics than we were one year ago.
It is not yet too late for us pass new laws that will shine a light on “dark money.” However, our state legislative leaders need to act with urgency and make transparency and accountability a top priority — or Ohioans will undoubtedly face yet another embarrassing scandal.
The House Bill 6 debacle highlights the role of special interests in policymaking. Our Statehouse should be a place where lawmakers hear from Ohioans from Lake Erie to the Ohio River about issues that impact their daily lives. Creating greater transparency will mean the influence of deep pocketed lobbyists will no longer be free to crowd out the concerns of everyday Ohioans. Shining a light dark money will put a brake on impropriety before things spin out of control.
While Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested and removed from the Ohio House, the rules surrounding Ohio elections have not changed. There are several common sense changes that would help curb the influence of the wealthy. First, the public should be able to follow the entire legislative process, including having access to documents created by the Legislative Service Commission — currently a significant gap in Ohio law. And, while lobbyists and their employers are required to file basic information with the Legislative Inspector General, it is time to expand disclosure to include all “activities” including expensive mailers.
We remain committed to building a democracy where everyone has an equal voice, and our elected officials are held accountable. We welcome the opportunity to work with any member of the state legislature interested in advancing legislation that increases transparency, breaks the grip of dark money in our politics, and strengthens the voices of Ohioans.