Ohio filing deadline reveals SB5-repeal group got more money, but supporters continue to shield donors
Building a Better Ohio, the group heading the campaign to preserve Ohio’s controversial anti-collective bargaining law Senate Bill 5, is, as a 501(c)4 non-profit, able to keep the names and amounts of donors secret. Campaign finance reports filed today in Ohio for the pre-general election deadline bear this out: all that can be determined by the report is the total number of dollars raised as of October 19: $7,599,000.
The last donation reported was on October 19, for $1.7 million dollars. All contributions are credited to Building a Better Ohio, Inc.
Building A Better Ohio has spent $5.9 million to maintain SB5, which will go before voters on Nov. 8 via a veto referendum known as Issue 2. Building a Better Ohio has pledged to release the names, but not the specific amounts, of its donors.
Opponents of the law, organized as We Are Ohio, reported cash and in-kind donations of around $19 million since mid-July, and $30,574,970 thus far in the campaign. As a political action committee, We Are Ohio must disclose its spending, donors and their contributions, according to state law. The vast majority of the contributions came from within the state, either from individual donors or local unions. We Are Ohio has spent $17.3 million, according to its filing.
Truthout reported this week on how the pro-SB5 crowd is buttressed by quiet, out-of-state donations:
We Are Ohio and its union backers are disclosing their campaign finances, but Building a Better Ohio, the GOP-linked group spearheading the pro-Senate Bill 5 campaign and running television ads across the state, set up a nonprofit corporation to raise funds and avoid revealing its contributors and finances. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) and out-of-state conservative groups like The Alliance for America’s Future are also defending Senate Bill 5 without disclosure.
Money raised across the country is paying for the television advertisements for both sides of Issue 2, mirroring the changing landscape of elections across the country. The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission and subsequent rulings opened the doors for corporations and unions to directly spend unlimited amounts on political advocacy and electioneering, which allowed the now infamous “Super PACs” (political action committee) like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads to spend millions on campaign ads benefiting Republican candidates in 2010. Governor Kasich was one such candidate. A former Lehman Brothers banker, Fox News personality and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) alumni, Kasich’s campaign enjoyed support from private interests nationwide.
Fueled in part by a $1 million donation from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. that matched a $1 million donation by conservative billionaire David Koch of Koch brothers fame, the RGA spent millions of dollars on TV ads and mailers to help elect Kasich and Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Both governors quickly turned around and pushed legislation targeting public-sector workers that inspired massive protests in Madison and the ongoing veto effort in Ohio.
The RGA spent more than $11 million supporting Kasich and called itself a “key investor” in his victory. With Kasich’s approval rating hovering around 40 percent and his landmark Senate Bill 5 up for a citizens’ referendum, the RGA has once again swooped into Ohio to protect its investment.
The RGA is using Make Ohio Great, a nonprofit group, to run ads featuring Kasich discussing elements of Senate Bill 5, without explicitly mentioning the ballot initiative. This ensures that the group can avoid revealing its finances to state officials. Make Ohio Great and the RGA share the same address in Washington, DC, but the RGA is also keeping its finances in the dark.