Ohio Issue 3, Campaign Finance Reform Act (2005)

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The Ohio Campaign Finance Reform Amendment, also known as Issue 3, was on the November 8, 2005 ballot in Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.[1] This amendment would have established new limits on the amount that could be contributed to candidate campaign committees and PACs.

Election results

Ohio Issue 3 (2005)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,927,50266.86%
Yes 955,334 33.14%

Election results via the Ohio Secretary of State.[2]

Text of measure

See also: Ohio Constitution, Article XVII

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
(Proposed by Initiative Petition)

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 or another PAC or multi-candidate PAC and $1,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office or a political party. Contributions from multi-candidate PACs: $500 to a PAC; $1,000 to a candidate for member of the general assembly or another multi-candidate PAC; $2,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office or a county or local political party; and $10,000 to a national or state political party.

Contributions from small donor PACs:
$500 to a PAC; $1,000 to a multi-candidate PAC; $5,000 to a local or county political party; $10,000 to a candidate for member of the general assembly; $20,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office; and $25,000 to a national or state political party.

Contributions from candidates' committees:
$500 to a candidate for member of the general assembly; a PAC or multi-candidate PAC and $1,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office or a political party.

Contributions from affiliated national, state, county, and local political parties combined: $25,000 to a candidate for member of the general assembly and $100,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office.

  • Provide that limits on contributions to candidates are per election; all other limits are per year; limits on contributions to political parties apply to all donations regardless of purpose; and limits on contributions to and by PACs apply as a single limit on affiliated committees. Define a "small donor action committee" as a PAC that receives contributions only from individuals of no more than $50 per year per contributor, except that a non-profit membership organization may contribute funds from regular membership dues of its members to small donor action committees that it establishes or are established by a non-profit membership organization with which it is a member or affiliated, provided that no more than $50 per year per member may be contributed.
  • Define a "multi-candidate political committee" as a PAC that has been in existence for at least six months, received contributions from at least 50 individuals in the 24 months preceding qualifying, and made contributions to at least five candidates with no more than half being to one candidate.
  • Define "independent expenditure" as an expenditure made with a purpose of influencing a candidate election, that is not made in coordination, cooperation, or consultation with any candidate at the election; and also as any communication to the public during the period 60 days prior to a primary or general election that contains a reference to a person who is a candidate at the election for state executive office or member of the General Assembly, regardless of the purpose of the communication.
  • Establish restrictions on contributions, including by political parties and corporations and other business entities and from individuals under age 18 and prohibit earmarked contributions.
  • Prohibit statewide and general assembly candidates and office holders from:
    • Soliciting contributions to more than one political action committee, small donor action committee or multi-candidate political committee in a calendar year.
    • Soliciting contributions to a committee supporting or opposing a state ballot issue.
    • Appearing in advertising in connection with a state ballot issue, unless the candidate or the candidate's campaign committee pays the entire cost.
  • Require public disclosure of political contributions and expenditures, including independent expenditures. Require candidates for state executive offices or member of the general assembly to electronically file with a single office within one business day of receipt of a contribution in the amount of $1,000 or more received during the period 30 days before an election.
  • Provide for no limits on a candidate's capacity to spend his or her own money in connection with his or her own campaign, and have the effect of repealing existing law allowing an opponent to be exempt from contribution limits.
  • Permit labor unions, and other nonprofit unincorporated membership organizations, to contribute funds from regular membership dues paid by the organization's individual members to a small donor action committee. The small donor action committee is not required to report the names of individuals who contribute in this fashion.
  • Prohibit committees registered with and regulated by the Federal Election Commission from making contributions or independent expenditures in connection with any nonfederal candidate election in this state or making a contribution to a political party in this state for nonfederal elections.
  • Prohibit out-of-state political parties and candidate campaign committees from making contributions or expenditures in connection with any candidate election or making a contribution to a political party in the state. Prohibit candidates from receiving contributions from political action committees, small donor action committees or multi-candidate political committees if the candidate exercises any decision making authority with respect to the committee or has solicited contributions to the committee in the current or prior four years.
A majority yes vote is necessary for passage.

Shall the proposed amendment be adopted? [4]

Support

Arguments in favor

The following reasons were given in support of Issue 3 by Reform Ohio Now:[3]

Vote YES to restore confidence, level the playing field and reduce the influence of big money contributors in politics by significantly limiting campaign contributions to statewide and state legislative candidates and political parties.

Ohio’s state government has become mired in scandal. A “pay-to-play” culture - reflected in “Coingate,” undisclosed golf outings, and ongoing federal and state investigations – permeates state government. The endless drive to raise campaign money has tempted too many to cross ethical lines.

Rather than limiting the influence of big money, the General Assembly made the problem worse last year by raising individual contribution limits from $2,500 to $10,000! The legislature also lifted a ban on corporate contributions to political parties.

Issue 4 will restore reasonable contribution limits and reduce the influence of big money in government. Under this amendment, individual contributions will be limited to $2,000 per election for statewide candidates and $1,000 per election for state legislative candidates. The ban on corporate contributions to political parties will be restored.

The current influence of big money contributors in state government has corrupted government. Ohio’s sky high contribution limits only widen the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” making it increasingly difficult for average citizens to compete in the public arena. Government stops listening to the average citizen and only hears the big money contributor.

Big money allows special interests to shape policy and exercise greater influence over legislators than the voters who elect them. One need only look to the scandals that now plague Ohio.

RESTORE CONFIDENCE

END CORRUPTION

VOTE YES[4]

Opposition

Arguments against

The following reasons were given in opposition of Issue 3 by the Committee to Provide Argument Against Issue 3:[3]

Vote No on Issue 3 for the following reasons.

  • The proposed amendment would change how Ohio political campaigns are funded to benefit the wealthy and labor unions, to the disadvantage of all other Ohioans.
  • The proposed amendment allows labor unions to funnel unlimited amounts of money into the political process through a new type of political organization that is deceptively labeled a “small donor” action committee. In addition, there would be no obligation placed on labor unions to provide full disclosure regarding the source of this money, which could even be given people outside Ohio.
  • The proposed amendment would give an unfair advantage to wealthy candidates because they would be permitted to use unlimited amounts of personal money in their campaigns. However, unlike Ohio’s current law, the proposed amendment would not permit an individual running against a wealthy opponent to raise additional campaign dollars to make the election fair and competitive.
  • The proposed amendment would also place drastic restrictions on the ability of all other Ohioans to raise money to combat the undue influence of the wealthy and labor unions in Ohio elections. These restrictions are designed to silence the voices of ordinary Ohioans in the elections process.

For all of these reasons,

VOTE NO ON ISSUE THREE[4]

See also

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