Ohio bills addressing campaign finance reform gain support amid $60 million bribery scheme

Ohio bills addressing campaign finance reform arise after $60 million bribery scheme

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - Two new state bills just introduced could make sweeping changes to Ohio’s campaign finance laws.

They require more transparency for you, the voter.

This comes amid a $60-million “pay to play” scandal involving Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, who was voted out unanimously by his fellow lawmakers Thursday.

The alleged conspiracy involves a nuclear power plant bailout bill.

State Rep. Larry Householder and four associates were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in connection with what they say is likely the largest bribery and money laundering scheme in Ohio history.

State Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (D- Cleveland) believes reforming the law will bring integrity back to Ohio politics.

She’s challenging her fellow lawmakers to step up now, even before the bill stands a chance to pass.

“I think last week was a shock to everyone,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said it gives new urgency to the reforms that need to be made.

“These bad actors are taking advantage of this giant loophole in our system, there’s no limits, there’s no way to know who’s influencing our elections,” she said.

Sweeney co-authored House Bill 739, the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, to shed light on dark money and close campaign finance loopholes.

She's been working on this bill since last November.

“If you’re going to influence our elections, if you’re going to pay for political expenditures, putting out campaign ads—that you just have to say who you are and who you’re coming from, or where the money is coming from, and how much you’re spending. We’re not putting any other limitations on there,” Sweeney said.

The bill would:

-Require dark money groups to identify their funders and disclose their spending, including non-profits and LLCs.

-Force those groups to reveal their true owners and source of funding.

-And strengthen the ban on foreign money.

Sweeney said under this bill, companies and groups can still participate in the political process, but this will weed out those with questionable intentions.

She hopes the new House speaker will take lawmakers off recess so they can get to work now.

“So if there is any silver lining in what we’re seeing play out, I hope it is that we start taking this seriously and we see real reform,” she said.

Another state bill just introduced this week is co-authored by State Rep. Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville).

Her bill would update Ohio law and place more reporting requirements on groups that make political contributions.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted introduced similar legislation as a state senator a decade ago, but it did not pass.

“We cannot continue down the path of what is, but should aspire to pursue what should be when it comes to campaign finance reform,” Manning said in a press release.

“I believe that we must move past the unethical activities that we have recently discovered that went into House Bill 6 and push for a better, cleaner and trustworthy set of rules for Ohioans that we represent,” she said.

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