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Ohio political parties make progress in disclosure

   
Laura Yeomans, Research Director
Citizens Policy Center

May 24, 1999

Press release

Major Findings

In 1995 the Ohio legislature passed campaign finance reform legislation limiting campaign contributions and requiring certain types of financial disclosure. Reform allowed larger contributions to flow to political parties than to candidates. Candidates were required to provide the full address of contributors and to disclose the employer of contributors giving more than $100. Candidates must also provide the addresses of contributors. Political party committees were exempted from these basic disclosure requirements.

This study analyzes whether state level political party committees revealed the addresses of contributors, and the employers of individual contributors who gave more than $100, even though Ohio law does not require it.

Disclosure of the address, city, and zip code for contributors is important because it allows voters, citizen activists and researchers to have the opportunity to identify the source of contributions to each political party.

Ohio law clearly requires employer identification of large contributions for statewide and legislative candidates. Employer identifications are valuable because they enable the public to learn about the economic interests behind financial contributions. With such information, voters have more indications about who supports a party and what positions parties may take on key decisions.

  • In 1997 and 1998 all Democratic and Republican political party committees voluntarily disclosed 96 percent or more of the addresses of contributors. This is a wonderful advance over the 1995-1996 period, when the Ohio Republican Party committees disclosed 92 percent or more of the contributions they received and Ohio Democratic Party committee funds disclosed 17 percent or less of the addresses of contributors.

  • In 1997 and 1998 the Republican Senate and House caucus committees voluntarily disclosed the employers for 91 percent or more of the dollar amount of contributions from individual contributors who gave more than $100. The Ohio Democratic Party voluntarily disclosed 82 percent or more of the employers of contributors. The Center commends the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party, the Ohio Democratic Party State Candidate Fund, and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee for this voluntary disclosure. It was above and beyond the disclosure required by Ohio law.

  • The Ohio Republican Party committees did not voluntarily disclose the employers of their individual contributors who gave more than $100. The House Democratic Caucus Fund disclosed 11 percent of the dollar amount that should have been disclosed and the Committee for a Democratic Majority disclosed 67 percent.

1997-98 Disclosure Report:
Ohio Statewide Political Party Committees
Disclosure of Addresses
Committee Total Contributions Contributions with addresses Percent with addresses Grade
Ohio Republican Party Campaign Committee 628 622 99% A
Ohio Republican Party Public Funds 47 47 100% A
Ohio Republican Party State Candidate Fund 3559 3557 99.9% A
Ray C. Bliss Building Trust Fund 24 24 100% A
Republican Senate Campaign Committee 1907 1906 99.9% A
Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee 2873 2873 100% A
Ohio Democratic Party 775 766 98.8% A
Ohio Democratic Party Building Fund 123 122 99.2% A
Ohio Democratic Party Political Party Fund 61 59 96.7% A
Ohio Democratic Party State Candidate Fund 365 365 100% A
House Democratic Caucus Fund 2079 2077 99.9% A
Committee for a Democratic Majority 365 364 99.7% A
Reform Party of Ohio 77 13 16.9% F

1997-98 Disclosure Report:
Ohio State Political Party Committees
Disclosure of Employers of Individual Contributors Who Gave More than $100
Committee Total individual contributions Contributions with employer disclosed Percent of amount with employer Grade
Ohio Republican Party Campaign Committee $553,423 $0 0% F
Ohio Republican Party Public Funds NA NA NA NA
Ohio Republican Party State Candidate Fund $1,272,614 $0 0% F
Ray C. Bliss Building Trust Fund $1,000 $0 0% F
Republican Senate Campaign Committee $665,714 $639,926 96.1% A
Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee $814,489 $748,604 91.9% A
Ohio Democratic Party $743,035 $621,235 83.6% B
Ohio Democratic Party Building Fund NA NA NA NA
Ohio Democratic Party Political Party Fund NA NA NA NA
Ohio Democratic Party State Candidate Fund $486,492 $401,696 82.6% B
House Democratic Caucus Fund $71,095 $8,025 11.3% F
Committee for a Democratic Majority $24,900 $16,600 66.7% D
Reform Party of Ohio $500 $0 0% F

Recommendations

  1. Political party committees in Ohio should be required to disclose the full name and address of contributors. This disclosure should include the name, street address, city, state and zip code of contributors.
  2. Political party committees in Ohio should be required to disclose the employer of contributors who give more than $100, so that voters will have important information about the economic source and interests of contributors.
  3. This kind of information should be filed electronically by parties and candidates and quickly posted on the Internet by the Ohio Secretary of State. H.B. 119, sponsored by by Rep. Ron Amstutz of Wooster would accomplish this.

Acknowledgments

The Citizens Policy Center thanks the Joyce Foundation, George Gund Foundation, and Piper Fund for their support of this project to document progress in disclosure in party committees and caucuses. The findings and opinions expressed in this report are those of the Citizens Policy Center.

The Citizens Policy Center, a not-for-profit tax-exempt organization, is the research and public education affiliate of Ohio Citizen Action. The Center was founded in Cleveland in 1976 to conduct research and public education about issues affecting industrial states, recognizing that the industrial states were going through economic changes that would make obsolete much of the conventional wisdom about state and local public policy.

Laura Yeomans is the research director of the Citizens Policy Center. She is the author of this report. Patty Wise is the research department database manager who prepared much of the analysis in this report. For questions about the report, call Yeomans at 1 (330) 343-9588.

To obtain a hard copy of this report, send a self-addressed $.55-cent stamped envelope to the Citizens Policy Center, P.O. Box 8, Dover, Ohio 44622.

© 1999 Citizens Policy Center