COLUMBUS— State Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) and Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) gave sponsor testimony on their anti-corruption legislation, which would require dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending. First introduced before Larry Householder’s indictment, the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act is needed more than ever after his conviction in the largest bribery and corruption scandal in Ohio history.
“Knowing where the money is coming from is the only way to stop corruption in Ohio, but a group of anti-labor, anti-voter, anti-choice politicians are coming for our right to amend our constitution instead,” said Rep. Sweeney. “The people will not be fooled. Our attention will not be diverted from the real solutions to our very real problems. Corruption feeds on secret, dark money and the loopholes that enable it. The legislature can close those loopholes right now. The clock is ticking.”
Former Speaker Larry Householder was convicted last month on bribery and racketeering charges for using a 501(c)(4) organization to hide the source of over $60 million that FirstEnergy funneled to himself, his associates, and his preferred political candidates. In exchange, Householder passed House Bill 6 and blocked a citizens’ veto of the bill that was designed to give over a billion dollars to FirstEnergy and other corporations.
“Today, Ohio remains dry tinder for another forest fire of corruption to sweep through because lawmakers have done nothing to prevent it,” said Rep. Miranda. “The conviction of the former speaker apparently has not been enough to move our colleagues to do something about the conditions that caused experts to call Ohio number one in the country for corruption. We need to pass these transparency reforms that put people first over greedy corporations.”
The bill, which is titled The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, would do the following:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.