Can Money Buy Justice: Contributions to Ohio Supreme Court Candidates 2018

In this report, Common Cause Ohio has out­lined the scope of the problem and recommended specific, practical and actionable steps to remedy the problem.

Report

Millions of dollars have poured into campaigns for Ohio’s highest court.

This includes money raised directly by candidates for justice and money spent on political advertisements by groups not directly affiliated with the candidates.

The post Citizens United era is one of massive campaign spending, much of it from dark money sources. Times have changed, but Ohio laws governing judicial elections have not kept pace. To restore confidence in our courts, Ohio’s recusal, disclosure and transparency laws must be updated. In this report, Common Cause Ohio has out­lined the scope of the problem and recommended specific, practical and actionable steps to remedy the problem.

Having confidence in the fairness and integrity of our courts is important in and of itself. Since the judiciary serves as a check on the other branches of government, faith in the independence and impartiality of the courts is in­trinsically tied to a broader sense of trust in government.

While the corrupting influence of money in politics is widely recognized, fewer voters are aware of how money impacts judicial elections as well as the behavior of judges once they are on the court. 

This report examines who contributed directly to the campaigns of Ohio Supreme Court candidates from January to August 2018, according to campaign finance filings, and shines a light on additional forms and sources of funding. Most importantly, it discusses the implications of having inadequate recusal procedures for Ohio judge and how our judicial system is diminished and distorted when judges hear the cases of their campaign contributors.