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Ohio campaign-finance reform bill gets first look since emergence of dark money scandal

Published By on March 25, 2021
Diane V. Grendell In The News

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio House is taking up a bill that would impose tougher disclosure requirements on corporate political donors, a move to increase campaign-finance transparency in the aftermath of the House Bill 6 scandal.

House Bill 13 would require political nonprofits and other corporate groups to disclose their donors and spending with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, similar to political action committees or political candidates. Among the groups it would affect are 501C4s, political nonprofits often used as vehicles for “dark money” spending, or money that’s legally structured to keep its donors anonymous.

The bill also would remove a prohibition in state law that bars corporate political contributions, a statute that was rendered outdated by the 2010 Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision and which largely has been ignored or circumvented by dark money groups.

HB13 got its first Statehouse hearing on Thursday, with its sponsors, Rep. Mark Fraizer, of Newark and state Rep. Diane Grendell, of Chesterland, testifying before the House Government Oversight Committee. The two Republicans introduced an identical bill last September, but it never received a hearing.

“Ohioans are entitled to the full picture so that they are able to make the best informed decisions with all campaign finance information present,” Grendell said in her Thursday committee testimony.

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