COLUMBUS -- Several Democratic lawmakers in the Ohio House plan to introduce legislation limiting campaign contributions from companies that receive state incentives or those with overseas owners.
Reps. John Carney (D-Columbus), Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) and Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) said their bill is in response to an amendment added to the main mid-biennium budget bill to void an administrative rule implemented under former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner regulating certain campaign contributions.
"We need to pull the curtains back and show where campaign contributions are coming from, who's getting them and then who's getting contracts and incentives," Carney said during a Statehouse press conference. "If there's ties, if somebody gave a big contribution and also got a big contract, then those of us in elected office or in agencies who are making those decisions should be accountable to answering to the taxpayers why that was a good choice."
House Republicans said the rule in question should be eliminated, and lawmakers should more fully consider potential law changes related to corporate contributions.
"It was a rule that was passed without legislative approval, and because we have a series of decisions that are now the law of the land, like them or not... this issue needs to be revisited by the legislature," Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said during the floor debate on the amendment earlier this month. He added later, "We have a vague rule. We have in my mind an unconstitutional rule."
House Democrats attempted a floor amendment to require greater disclosure of and limits on certain corporate contributions.
On Thursday, they said they would offer comparable law changes in separate legislation that would limit spending for one year by companies that receive state incentives and ban contributions from corporations that are 20 percent or more foreign owned.
"All we're asking for is for full disclosure on what the relationships are when it comes to economic development," Driehaus said. "When taxpayer dollars are being spent and campaign contributions are coming in to a company that's getting incentives from the state of Ohio, we need to understand what the relationships are."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.