State Issue 3 - Campaign Finance

State Issue 3 (see ballot language for Issue 3) is the second of the four proposals sponsored by a coalition of groups known as Reform Ohio Now. On November 8 th this issue will be on the ballot when Ohio voters go to the polls. The idea behind it is to severely limit campaign contributions while at the same time increasing public access to information about the nature and origin of individual contributions.

Issue 3 provides for a $25,000 annual cap on expenditures by an individual to all candidates for the General Assembly, political parties, political action committees and small donor action committees. The only exception to this is if the candidate is making a contribution to the candidate's own campaign for office. Aside from curtailing both the total amount -and specifying how that sum can be doled out amongst candidates and organizations - Issue 3 also limits the contributions of political action committees and political parties. In short, Issue 3 provides for a comprehensive overhaul on the political spending power of Ohio persons and groups.

Proponents of the issue say that too much money - and the constant solicitation of it - is not only compromising the ethics of Ohio politicians but also limiting the pool of Ohioans getting their voices heard. Recent expansion of campaign contribution amounts by the General Assembly has only served to exacerbate an already difficult problem. This issue allows the average voter to have as much say as the wealthy or corporate donor; on top of that, increased transparency in reporting contributions can only serve the public good.

Opponents of the issue say that limiting campaign speech is not only unconstitutional but also ineffective: labor unions and wealthy individuals running for office will get a decided advantage over regular folks. On top of this, the public disclosure of funds would not disclose the money being funneled by labor unions into so call "small donor action committees." As a practical matter, such detailed language does not belong in the Ohio Constitution and, if truly needed, would be best passed into law by the General Assembly.

Among the groups opposing Issue 3 are the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Ohio State Medical Association. Groups in favor of the issue include the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.