Election Reforms can — PROTECT Democracy . . . and the Republic
Dark Money- OHIO
Why has a small group of Politicians prevented Ohio from outlawing the use of Dark Money to influence elections?
U.S. Congress blocked from ending Dark Money
States pass the American Anti-Corruption Act to prevent the use of Dark Money
With the failure in Washington to prevent undisclosed Megadonors from pouring money into Special Interests around the country, eleven states have enacted the American Anti-Corruption Act or other legislation requiring the disclosure of Major Campaign Donors.
The Ohio Legislature has not enacted the American Anti-Corruption Act, as it is opposed by the far right-leaning Dark Money ALEC organization (see below).
Dark Money behind Federal Racketeering Crimes involving the Ohio Legislature
Leaders of a political Dark Money group, Generations Now, and former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder, were charged and convicted of Federal Racketeering crimes. Their Criminal activity involved a $61 million Bribery Scheme that assisted the reelection of a number of Ohio Legislators who then passed nuclear Bailout Legislation through the Ohio General Assembly. This legislation wrongfully provided First Energy with $1.4 billion in tax payer subsidies for two of its ailing nuclear plants.
In spite of the Federal Racketeering criminal activity involving Dark Money and the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Legislature continues to permit the use of Dark Money to influence elections in the State.
Ethics reform bill continues to permit the use of Dark Money
According to the Brennan Center of Justice, “A healthy democracy requires everyone to have a voice. Increasingly, our system allows a few to use their extreme private wealth to mold our politics . . .”
On January 18, 2023, at the start of the Federal Racketeering trial of Larry Householder, why did a small group of Politicians move forward with an Ethics Reform bill to “boost transparency,” that continued the use of Dark Money from MegaDonars to influence Ohio elections?
The Rotunda area at the Ohio Statehouse
IN THE NEWS
Published by The Associated Press
D1.) “Dark money group admits racketeering in Ohio bribery case“
By Julie Carr Smyth and Mark Gillispie
February 19, 2021
“A political dark money group that authorities say was used as part of a $60 million bribery scheme to pass nuclear bailout legislation in Ohio pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge on Friday.”
“Federal investigators say former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Longstreth and three others used the nonprofit Generation Now as a conduit for $60 million secretly provided by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. The money was allegedly used to secure Householder’s power, elect allied lawmakers and gain legislative approval for $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants operated by a FirstEnergy subsidiary.”
Published in Ohio Capital Journal
D2.) “Corruption trial texts: OH AG Yost didn’t speak out against bailout because of utility support”
By Marty Schladen
February 3, 2023
“In June of 2019, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost thought a proposed utility bailout was a bad law, but he didn’t publicly oppose it because of support he’d received from the bailout’s primary beneficiary, FirstEnergy, according to lobbyists’ text messages displayed in court on Friday.”
“Prosecutors displayed the messages as part of the racketeering trial of former House Speaker Larry Householder and Matt Borges, a former Ohio Republican Party Chairman who was acting as a lobbyist at the time the utility bailout was debated and passed. They are accused in a scheme to use $61 million to make Householder speaker in 2019 so he could pass and protect a $1.3 billion bailout that mostly went to protect FirstEnergy’s failing nuclear and coal plants.”
“But behind the scenes 15 months earlier — according to text messages between Borges and lobbyist Juan Cespedes — Yost was pulling his punches on the bailout. Borges said Yost was doing so partly because of $24,000 he received from FirstEnergy and . . . “
Ohio Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost speaks to supporters at an election watch party at the Renaissance Hotel on November 8, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Spear/Getty Images and article by Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal)
Published by The Guardian
D3.) “Rightwing group pours millions in ‘dark money’ into US voter suppression bid“
Tax filings reveal advocacy arm of Heritage Foundation spent $5m on lobbying in 2021 to block voting rights in battleground states
By Brendan Fischer and Ed Pilkington
January 13, 2023
“The advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, the powerful conservative think tank based in Washington, spent more than $5m on lobbying in 2021 as it worked to block federal voting rights legislation and advance an ambitious plan to spread its far-right agenda calling for aggressive voter suppression measures in battleground states.
“The efforts help explain the unprecedented tidal wave of restrictive voting laws that spread across Republican-controlled states in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. The Brennan Center reported that more voter suppression laws were passed in 2021 than in any year since it began monitoring voting legislation more than a decade ago.”
“The plan(put in place by Heritage Action,a 501(c)4), obtained by Documented, proposed a two-pronged approach that would work to block moves by Democrats in Congress to bolster voting rights while at the same time pressing Republican-controlled states to impose restrictions on access to the ballot box.”
Published by Brennan Center for Justice
D4.) (Four) “4 Takeaways About Money in the Midterms“
“The financing of this year’s elections shows the challenges posed by megadonors and “dark money” — and hope for reform.”
By Ian Vandewalker and Mariana Paez
November 16, 2022
“A healthy democracy requires everyone to have a voice. Increasingly, our system allows a few to use their extreme private wealth to mold our politics . . . “
“The true extent of megadonor giving is unknown but certainly higher as gaping loopholes in federal law, and in many states’ laws, make unlimited, anonymous spending in politics — or “dark money” — easy.”
Published by The Statehouse News Bureau
D5.) “The new role dark money is playing in campaigns for Ohio’s top court“
By Jo Ingles
Published November 7, 2022
“The Brennan Center for Justice estimates nearly $1 million has been spent on Ohio’s three supreme court races. The organization’s Douglas Keith said a lot of that is money from unknown donors.”
“More dark money groups are putting their dollars into advertising for key judicial seats, he said.”
“‘These elections fly pretty far under the radar. They don’t get the attention other races do. As a result, the sort of very sophisticated political actors know that the price tag on influencing a race like this is actually much much lower than influencing something like a gubernatorial election or a senatorial election,” Keith said.”
Published by Ohio Capital Journal
D6.) “Campaign finance watchdog sues FEC over Ohio dark money group“
By Nick Evans
January 11, 2022
“Two years ago, the public watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a campaign finance complaint against an Ohio-based dark money group called Freedom Vote. Attorneys with the Federal Elections Commission investigated and demonstrated conclusively that those violations occurred. Open and shut case, right?”
“This month CREW filed a new complaint — this time a lawsuit against the FEC itself. That’s because despite an overwhelming set of evidence, commissioners failed to take action against Freedom Vote.”
Getty Images with article by Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal-- Jan. 11, 2021
Published by the Center for Media and Democracy
D7.) What is ALEC?
D7.) What is ALEC?
“ALEC is a pay-to-play operation (with many corporate members providing its funding) in which state legislators and corporate lobbyists meet behind closed doors to write model legislation that advances a radical right-wing, pro-corporate, and pro-Republican agenda on everything from suppressing voter access and denying climate change to crushing unions and undermining public education.”
In 2021, ” . . . a broad coalition of more than 300 civil rights and democracy reform groups called on corporations to disassociate from ALEC because of the surge in voter suppression efforts it was helping to facilitate.”
“The organization boasts 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often registered lobbyists) sit as equals with elected representatives on nine task forces where they have a “voice and a vote” on model legislation.”
“How do legislators benefit?”
“Why would a legislator be interested in advancing cookie-cutter bills that are corporate give-aways for global firms located outside of their district?
“ALEC’s appeal rests largely on the fact that legislators receive an all-expenses-paid trip that provides many part-time legislators with vacations that they could not afford on their own, along with the opportunity to rub shoulders with wealthy captains of industry (major prospective out-of-state donors to their political campaigns).”
“For a few hours of work on a task force and a couple of indoctrination sessions by ALEC experts, part-time legislators can bring the whole family to ALEC’s annual convention, work for a few hours, then stay in swank hotels, attend cool parties — even strip clubs– and raise funds for the campaign coffer, all heavily subsidized by the corporate till.”
SOLUTIONS TO ENDING