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Reps. Sweeney and Russo file Ohio Anti-Corruption Act

Legislation would shed light on dark money, close loopholes
May 11, 2021
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS — State Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today filed sweeping anti-corruption legislation, which would require dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending. First introduced nearly a year ago, the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act responds to the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history and recent news that experts rank Ohio as the top state for public corruption.

“After 20 years of one-party rule, state politics in Ohio are so embroiled in public corruption that experts rank us as the worst in the nation. With two former Republican Speakers actively being investigated, it is clear that our campaign finance laws protect bad actors,” said Rep. Sweeney. “We should not have to rely on the FBI alone to bring these allegations to light. Corruption feeds on dark money and closeable loopholes that enable this to happen. The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act is founded on the premise that Ohioans deserve to know who influences their elections.”

Former Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was arrested last summer. He is alleged to have used a 501(c)(4) organization to hide the origins of over $60 million, which was funneled to himself, his associates, and his preferred political candidates in exchange for passing House Bill 6 and squashing referendum efforts.

“The criminal allegations involving the former Speaker and House Bill 6 demonstrate just how necessary and long-overdue serious campaign finance reform is,” said Rep. Russo. “This bill will strengthen transparency and accountability so that dark money and corruption cannot subvert the will of the people who elected us to serve. Ohioans deserve better from their government, and this bill ensures the best interests of our constituents remain front and center.”

The bill, which is titled The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, would do the following: 

Close Dark Money Loopholes - Non-profit corporations like 501(c)(4)s and limited liability companies (LLCs) have become vehicles for big money special interests to hide their spending. These companies currently do not have to disclose their funders. The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act closes these loopholes, requiring these corporations and LLCs to disclose contributions meant to influence elections. 

Require Transparency – The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act will strengthen disclosure by requiring corporations and LLCs to tell us more about their true owners and the actual source of funds behind the deceptively benign names of their organizations. The integrity of our democracy depends on openness and accountability. 

Strengthen Ban on Foreign Money - Under the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, domestic corporations with foreign owners and decision makers will be banned from spending in our elections. Large foreign companies also won’t be able to get around our current foreign spending ban by opening an American subsidiary funded mostly with foreign money to spend unlimited sums in our elections.