Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ohio Issue 3 - Show me the money!

Or not.

First off, how about a summation of the proposed Ohio Constitutional amendment, shall we?

 To adopt Section 5 of Article XVII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

In order to establish revised limits on political contributions, establish prohibitions regarding political contributions and provide for revised public disclosure requirements of campaign contributions and expenditures, this amendment would:

  • Establish the following limits on political contributions:

    Annual limitation on contributions by individuals: $25,000 in total to all candidates for state executive offices and member of the General Assembly, political parties, PACs, multi-candidate PACs, and small donor PACs.

    Contributions from individuals: $50 to a small donor PAC; $500 to a political action committee; $1,000 to a candidate for member of the general assembly, a multi-candidate PAC, or a county or local political party; $2,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office; and $5,000 to a national or state political party.

    Contributions from political action committees (PACs): $500 to a candidate for member of the General Assembly yadda yadda yadda for four more inches of text.

When the summation of an amendment is too long to post into some blogspace, it can’t be good legislation.  In short, this amendment cuts money out of elections.  Sounds like a great idea, right?

Well, not so fast.  While cutting some money out of elections, there is a bit of a loophole, creating something called a “small donor political action committee”.  Call it “Swift Boat Veterans Lite”.  These groups could pound money into Columbus, negating what those who want less money politics truly want. 

Not long ago, the General Assembly (those folks down in Columbus) raised the contribution limits, which has made some people very mad, because they don’t have the ability to generate huge amounts of money (read:  Democrats have a hard time raising funds in Ohio).  Just today, the Democrat group/website “ActBlue” agreed to send loads of donations to Ohio, through “viral fundraising”.  It is a clever way of raising money from all over the nation and diverting it to palatable races in Ohio, namely the Senate race next year.  One of the things that the lawyerly economic types do is find ways around campaign finance laws.  In nearly every election, there’s some new way to skirt the system that’s already in place, leading others in the months following to lead the charge for “reform”.  These reforms are pretty much just greater challenges, as if in some great game of campaign finance.  Come on down!  If this amendment is added, are the contributions of the Californian going to be stopped from reaching Ohio?  Doubtful. 

Also, is it wise to write into the Constitution an exact dollar amount that can be sent to politicians?  Think back thirty years.  How much has the value of the dollar changed?  How many years will pass before we have to go to the election polls once again to update this Amendment?  This is why we elect politicians.  They go to Columbus, write their laws, and make us happy.  If they don’t make us happy, they don’t last in Columbus all that long.  If you’re mad at your representatives for the laws that they are creating, put someone in office that will fix the problem.  Don’t rewrite the Ohio Constitution and let them have a free ride.

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