Ohio Ethics Commission extends filling deadline

On March 27, 2020, the Ohio Ethics Commission announced the extension of the filing deadline for 2019 Financial Disclosure Statement forms to July 15, 2020, the same as federal and state tax filing dates. The full press release can be read here

Ethics

DeWine's State of the State address postponed

Governor Mike DeWine has postponed his annual State of the State address due to the coronavirus, according to a press release from his office. Originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, a new date for the address has not been set but will be after Ohio’s state of emergency is lifted. Read the full press release here.

General News

Governor DeWine seeks to postpone primary election to June

March 17, 2020 Update: Polls will be closed March 17, 2020. Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton have executed an order closing all poll locations due to the extreme health risk of COVID-19. As developments occur, we will have updates available. 

March 16, 2020 Update: Franklin County Judge Frye has rejected Governor DeWine's request to move the election to June 2, 2020. The primary will be held on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as previously scheduled. 

During Governor DeWine’s March 16, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing, Ohio officials announced the difficult decision to postpone the state’s Primary Election, scheduled for March 17, to June 2, 2020. Governor DeWine noted that he does not have the authority to extend the election, so an emergency lawsuit will be filed seeking postponement of the election. The governor also noted that he could not urge people to stay at home while at the same time urge people to exercise their right to vote. Therefore, delaying the election ensures that Ohioans will be able to cast a ballot but will also help reduce the risk of further infection. Joining Governor DeWine at the press conference, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose made clear that health and safety were non-negotiable. Secretary LaRose said that absentee voting by mail will continue. Votes previously cast through early voting will remain in storage and will get counted on June 2. As developments occur, we will have more information and updates available on our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Election Law, General News

COVID-19 may spur poll location changes for March 17 primary

The Ohio Secretary of State is taking coronavirus (COVID-19) related precautions for the upcoming March 17 primary election. Polling locations, particularly those that house senior citizens or populations susceptible to the virus, may be relocated. The Secretary and Boards of Elections are also encouraging early voting, both in person or by mail.

To find your polling location and for the latest election information, visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s website dedicated for updates with respect to COVID-19 and this year’s Primary Election in Ohio.

Election Law, General News

FEC releases coordinated party expenditure limits for 2020

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has adjusted coordinated party expenditure limits for 2020. For presidential nominees, the limit is $26,464,700. For Senate nominees, the limits range from $103,700 to $3,175,100, based on their state’s voting age population. Limits for House nominees are $103,700 (states with only one U.S. House Representative) or $51,900 (state with more than one U.S. House Representative).

The limits “are calculated according to a statutory formula that accounts for the annual cost-of-living adjustment,” according to the FEC’s news release. For more, read the full release.

Campaign Finance, General News

JLEC gives guidance that "all invited" does not mean "will not kick you out"

The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC) recently gave guidance that lobbyists and employers must “affirmatively invite” all members of the General Assembly or all members of the House or Senate to qualify as an “all invited” event for reporting purposes. Read the full story.  

Ethics

Want to honor a public official? Make sure you're in compliance

Recently, the Ohio Ethics Commission, in Advisory Opinion Number 2019-01, provided additional guidance on ceremonial gifts for public officials and employees. Public officials are often honored by groups for longstanding service or advocacy and may receive personalized items reflecting their contributions. Ohio law forbids public officials and employees from accepting a gift of substantial value from a party that is interested in matters before, regulated by, or doing or seeking to do business with the public employee or official’s agency. This creates a dilemma for both the public official and the group providing the ceremonial gift. For more, read the full story

General News

Legislative review and 2020 legislative and electoral preview

With the start of a new decade, our team wants to share an overview of the past year and a look ahead to the coming months. Please click the link below for a review of relevant legislation that the General Assembly passed in 2019, a summary of predictions for 2020 legislative priorities and a political preview of the 2020 statewide election. Read more >>

General News

Federal judge rules Ohio law restricting prisoners’ right to vote is unconstitutional

Prisoners awaiting trial “must be given same voting rights as other citizens,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson recently found, ruling on a case filed by two men incarcerated in Montgomery County last year, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Lawyers for the men argued that Ohio law “violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating prisoners differently than other voters,” according to the article. State law grants voters “confined in hospitals by unforeseen medical emergencies until 3 p.m. on Election Day to submit an absentee ballot application,” while voters held in jail “face a noon deadline on the Saturday before an election.” Watson wrote in his opinion, “[t]he legislature cannot simply grant one class of voters more favorable terms . . . (that) is exactly what the Equal Protection clause forbids.” For more, read the full article.

General News

Federal judge blocks activist group’s plans to infiltrate opponents’ campaigns

A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction sought by Project Veritas “challenging Ohio’s prohibition against individuals going undercover on political campaigns,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Project Veritas filed a lawsuit in July 2019 in U.S. District Court “arguing that state law violates its First Amendment rights,” comparing its “tactics of going undercover to record officeholders” and others to investigative journalism, the article reports. The group asked the court to “prohibit the Ohio Elections Commission from hearing complaints that it violated state law” after the Commission heard a case against the group, which took undercover recordings in an office for the combined 2016 campaign of U.S. Senate candidate former Gov. Ted Strickland and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Judge Edmund A. Sargus ruled against the request for a preliminary injunction. For more, read the full article.

Election Law
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