From January 1 to October 4, 2006, Robert Cupp raised twice as much ($777,426) as his opponent Ben Espy ($380,919). The top fundraiser, Justice Terrence O’Donnell, has already raised $874,311. He faces William O’Neill who has pledged to take “no money from nobody.” O’Neill did not file any campaign finance reports with the Ohio Secretary of State in the time period covered by this study. From January 1 to October 4, 2006, all the candidates for Justice together, including those who lost in the Primary, received more than $2 million. This study analyzes contributions to candidates for Justice who made it to the General Election.

Contributions given directly to the candidates for Justice are only one part of the story. The Partnership for Ohio’s Future, the affiliate of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, raised $1,291,500 and spent $1,285,140 on “electioneering communication.” These television advertisements praised Robert Cupp and Terrence O’Donnell. More than 60% of money spent on these ads was contributed to the Partnership by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce ($165,000) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($634,000). Insurance companies contributed an additional $405,000. There is no comparable “electioneering communication committee” supporting Ben Espy or William O’Neill.

Robert Cupp and Terrence O’Donnell received most of their contributions from lawyers and law firms, the insurance industry, and the health care field. The contributions from the insurance industry to both these candidates are very similar ($165,439 to Cupp; $166,516 to O’Donnell).

Cupp received 185 times more from physicians and hospitals than his opponent and 843 times more from the insurance industry. However, Ben Espy had strong support from labor unions. Espy raised 35 times more from unions than Cupp.

After the primary, the candidates for justice officially lose their party identification, but the political parties continue to play a significant role. Ben Espy received more than 40% of his total contributions from the Democratic Party and Democratic candidate committees ($154, 512). Cupp ($69,376) and O’Donnell ($75,675) received significant support from the Ohio Republican Party and Republican candidates.

From January 1 to October 4, 2006, all the General Election candidates for Justice received 3,802 contributions from individual donors. The average individual contribution was $278.43. Espy’s average individual contribution of $409.16 provides a sharp contrast to opponent Cupp’s average of $248.68.


2006 Candidates for Ohio Supreme Court
Contributions Raised from January 1 to October 4, 2006*
Robert Cupp/Open Seat
$777,426
Ben Espy/Open Seat/Won Primary
$380,919
Peter Sikora/Lost Democratic Primary  
$39,425
Terrence O’Donnell/Incumbent
$874,312
William O’Neill/Challenger/Won Primary
$0
A.J. Wagner/Lost Democratic Primary
$120,134
Total
$2,192,216
*Includes both monetary and in-kind contributions.

From January 1 to October 4, 2006, contributions to all the candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court, including those who lost in the Primary, totaled more than $2 million. Robert Cupp raised twice as much as his opponent Ben Espy. Challenger William O’Neill has pledged to take “no money from nobody.” O’Neill has not reported receiving any campaign contributions. This leaves incumbent Terrence O’Donnell with a distinct financial advantage. O’Donnell made an unsuccessful run for Justice in 2000 when he raised $1,117,044. His bid for justice was successful in 2004 when he faced election as an appointed incumbent justice. O’Donnell also faced O’Neill in 2004. O’Donnell was also the fundraising leader in that race; O’Donnell ($1,510,575.58) versus O’Neill ($71,068.39).


Top three economic sectors for each candidate*
Candidate
Top Sector
Second Sector
Third Sector
Robert Cupp

Insurance

$165,439

Lawyers

$165,280

Health

$113,559
Ben Espy

Political Party

$160,062

Lawyers

$160,061

Unions

$87,250
Terrence O'Donnell

Lawyers

$236,751

Insurance

$166,516

Health

$101,255
William O'Neill
$0
$0
$0
* These contributions include both political action committees and individual employees.


Robert Cupp and Terrence O’Donnell received most of their contributions from lawyers and law firms, the insurance industry, and the health care field. The contributions from the insurance industry to both these candidates are very similar ($168,664 to Cupp; $166,916 to O’Donnell). These candidates also share top donors by organization: 1.) Cincinnati Financial Corporation, 2.) American Financial Group and 3.) Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease. Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease was also a top contributor to Ben Espy.

Top Organizational Contributions to Candidates for Justice January 1-October 4, 2006
  Cupp Espy O'Donnell
1.
Cincinnati Financial Insurance
$41,838
AFSCME
$16,500
Cincinnati Financial Insurance
$41,353
2.
American Financial Group
$18,500
Vorys, Sater, et al.
$12,175
American Financial Group
$22,000
3.
Vorys, Sater, et al.
$14,225
Ohio Federation of Teachers
$11,000
Vorys, Sater, et al.
$13,900
4.
Porter, Wright, et al.
$12,510
Murray & Murray
$9,980
Jones Day
$12,450
5.
Calfee Halter & Griswold
$12,000
Ohio Council of Carpenters
$9,000
Porter, Wright, et al.
$12,360
*Organizational contributions include contributions from both PACs and employees by organization. These contributions include both monetary and in-kind.

Contributions from physicians & hospitals and insurance companies*
Candidate
Physicians & Hospital Total
Insurance Total
Total
Robert Cupp
$92,284
$165,439
$257,723
Ben Espy
$500
$200
$700
Terrence O'Donnell
$81,566
$166,516
$248,082
William O'Neill
$0
$0
$0
Total Contributions
$174,350
$332,155
$506,505
* Contributions include PACs and employees.

Cupp received 185 times more from physicians and hospitals than his opponent and 843 times more from the insurance industry. However, Ben Espy had strong support from labor unions. Espy raised 35 times more from unions than did Cupp.

Contributions from labor unions*
Candidate Total
Robert Cupp
$2,500
Ben Espy
$87,250
Terrence O'Donnell
$9,000
William O'Neill
$0
Total Contributions
$98,750


Traditionally, contributions from law firms feature prominently in races for the Supreme Court. Lawyers and law firms contributed a total of $413,092 to all the candidates for Justice, or 20% of all the donations to these candidates.





* Contributions include PACs and employees.


Top Contributions from Law Firms*
  Robert Cupp Total Ben Espy Total
1. Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease $14,225 Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease $12,175
2. Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur $12,510

Murray & Murray

$9,980
3. Calfee, Halter & Griswold $12,000 Allen Schulman & Associates $8,000
4. Bricker & Eckler $8,300

Bashein & Bashein

$5,500
5. Ulmer & Berne $6,000

Waite, Schneider, et al.

$5,500
6. Baker & Hostetler $5,600

Philip J. Fulton & Associates

$4,817
7. Keating, Muething & Klekamp $5,500 Nurenberg, Paris, Heller $4,000
8. Reminger & Reminger $5,500

Climaco, Lefkowitz, Peca 

$3,000
9. Frost Brown Todd $5,325

Dworken & Bernstein

$2,000
10. Roetzel & Andress $5,250

Jeffries, Kube, Forrest

$2,000
*Contributions by Law Firm include PACs and members of the law firms.

Top Contributions from Law Firms*
  Terrence O'Donnell Total
1. Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease
$13,900
2. Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue
$12,450
3. Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur
$12,360
4. Calfee, Halter & Griswold
$11,000
5. Faruki, Ireland & Cox
$10,100
6. Bricker & Eckler
$9,225
7. Squire, Sanders & Dempsey
$9,000
8. Baker & Hostetler
$8,850
9. Frost Brown Todd
$6,975
10. Keating, Muething & Klekamp
$5,500
*Contributions by Law Firm include PACs and members of the law firms.


After the primary, the candidates for Justice officially lose their party identification but the political parties continue to play a significant role. Cupp and Espy are particularly well identified with their respective political parties. Cupp and Espy served together in the Ohio Senate. Ben Espy received more than 40% of his total contributions from the Democratic Party and Democratic candidate committees ($154, 512). Cupp ($69,376) and O’Donnell ($75,675) received significant support from the Republican Party and Republican candidates.


Contributions from Political Party & Candidate Committees January 1-October 4, 2006*
Candidate Total Contributions
Robert Cupp/Republican
$69,376
Ben Espy/Democrat
$154,512
Terrence O’Donnell/Republican
$75,675
William O’Neill/Democrat
Total
$299,563
*Contributions from political parties includes those from political party and candidate committees and leadership political action committees.

Robert Cupp did not face a challenger in the Primary, which put Ben Espy at a financial disadvantage. Espy’s campaign committee reported that he expended $156,781 in the Primary race and that the committee had only $8,184 on hand

From January 1 to October 4, 2006, candidates for Justice received 3,802 contributions from individual donors. The average individual contribution was $278.43. Espy’s average individual contribution of $409.16 provides a sharp contrast to opponent Cupp’s average of $248.68.


Average Individual Contributions 1/1/06-10/4/06
Candidate Average Contribution
Robert Cupp
$247.68
Ben Espy
$409.16
Terrence O'Donnell
$290.48
William O'Neill
$0
Total Average
$278.43

Click here for Individual Candidate Campaign Finance Profiles

Partnership for Ohio’s Future
Contributions given directly to the candidates for justice are only one part of the story. The Partnership for Ohio’s Future, the affiliate of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, raised $1,291,500 and spent $1,285,140 on “electioneering communication.” These television advertisements praised Robert Cupp and Terrence O’Donnell. The advertisement supporting Cupp stated "Bob Cupp is a man of principle who led the fight against liberal activists to preserve Ohio’s motto, ‘With God, all things are possible.’" The ad praising O’Donnell stated, “His father was a guardian of our safety. Justice Terry O’Donnell is a guardian of our laws. He knows a fair and balanced judiciary means more jobs and a stronger Ohio.”

More than 60% of money spent on these ads was contributed to the Partnership by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce ($165,000) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($634,000). Insurance companies contributed an additional $405,000. There is no comparable “electioneering communication committee” supporting Ben Espy or William O’Neill.

Recommendations
Ohio should adopt a voluntary full public financing system for judicial elections, thereby eliminating the need for candidates to fundraise and reducing the growing perception that justice is for sale. Such a program should be financed through a combination of attorney and court filing fees, a voluntary tax check-off program, and state appropriations.

Alternatively, attorneys should be required to disclose their contributions to judicial candidates; in turn the political committees established by judges should be required to identify the attorneys and law firms that have contributed to their campaigns and appeared before them in court within the past year. The state supreme court or the legislature should develop recusal rules for cases involving lawyers and litigants who contributed funds to the campaigns of judges before whom they appear, in excess of a clearly-defined amount.

Ohio should institute a judicial voter guide to provide a nonpartisan source of sorely needed information about judicial candidates. These voter guides can help educate and address the void left by political ads filled with empty rhetoric. Many voters say that they do not have enough information in judicial elections. In a poll sponsored by Justice at Stake, 90% of voters and 87% of judges say that they are concerned that “because voters have little information about judicial candidates, judges are often selected for reasons other than qualifications.”

Methodology
The Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund analyzed contributions from January 1 through October 4, 2006, to candidates for Ohio Supreme Court. Totals include contributions from political action committees (PACs), labor unions, and individuals.

The database is based on the filings of judicial candidates for Ohio Supreme Court, available in computerized form from the Ohio Secretary of State. These filings were submitted electronically by the candidate committees to the Secretary of State and are available on-line at www.state.oh.us/sos. The candidate committees were given an opportunity to review their candidate campaign finance profiles.

To identify the employers of contributors, the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund used the following:
  • Databases of architects, doctors, dentists, funeral directors and certified public accountants registered to do business in Ohio from the Ohio Division of Administrative Services,
  • A database from the Ohio Supreme Court of attorneys in Ohio,
  • A list of lobbyists in Ohio from the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee,
  • A list of contributors to Political Action Committees in Ohio,
  • Database of physicians provided by the American Medical Association
  • Database of attorneys provided by Martindale-Hubble.
For each candidate the total amount in this campaign finance database includes the following:
  • Contributions received
  • Contributions received at a social or fundraising even
  • In-kind contributions received
  • Contributions the candidate gave to his own campaign
The campaign finance profiles do not include Statement of Other Income, which includes interest, refund, returns, and other non-contribution income.

Acknowledgements
The Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund would like to thank the Joyce Foundation for providing funding that made this report possible. We would also like to thank Larry Hansen for his guidance and Angela Oster for providing graphics.

The Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund thanks Curt Mayhew and Kelly Neer of the office of the Ohio Secretary of State for their advice and information.

For questions or comments about this study, contact Catherine Turcer, 1200 Chambers Road, Suite 307, Columbus, Ohio 43212, (614) 487-7880, cturcer@ohiocitizen.org.