Top five Ohio lobbying activities for 2018

In its 2018 Lobbying Statistics Report, the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC) and the Office of the Legislative Inspector General uncover trends in how Ohio lobbyists spent their time throughout the year. Specifically, these five topics garnished the most attention from lobbyists, according to the report:

5. H.B. 114 – Overhaul of Ohio’s energy standards (116 instances)

4. S.B. 266 – Capital budget (141 instances)

3. H.B. 49 – Biennial budget (151 instances)

2. S.B. 293 – 30% rate cut proposal across state agencies (152 instances)

1. H.B. 529 – Capital budget (256 instances)  

The report also provides additional details regarding the more than 3,300 lobbyists and employers registered in Ohio, as well as data regarding specific expenditures. 

Campaign Finance

FEC details over $10 billion in political spending in the 2017-18 federal election cycle

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) recently issued a summary of contributions and expenditures reported between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018. The FEC summarized reported money to and from political action committees (PACs), party committees, 2018 congressional candidates and 2020 presidential candidates, as well as independent expenditures and other reportable communications. The FEC statistics reveal that congressional candidates raised $2.8 billion and spent $2.7 billion during the two-year reporting period. Political parties raised $1.6 billion and spent $1.5 billion, and PACs outpaced all categories, raising $4.7 billion and spending $4.6 billion. Although it is still early, the 51 individuals who have already declared themselves as 2020 presidential candidates reported a total of $75.3 million in contributions and $63.1 million in expenditures as of December 31, 2018.  Reported independent expenditures totaled another $1.3 billion. 

Additional details within the summary include a comparison of congressional candidates’ financial activity from 2008-2018, the receipts for individual political parties, as well as a breakdown of political action committee figures by type.

Campaign Finance

Tidying up: Spring cleaning for your PAC

With a busy state election cycle behind us and a federal election cycle on the horizon, spring is an ideal time to give your Political Actions Committee (PAC) a thorough cleaning. These checklist items should be part of your regular PAC maintenance. But if you haven’t asked yourself these questions in a while, now is an ideal time. Read more >>

Campaign Finance

Ohio Secretary of State pens letter calling for campaign finance transparency

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose recently drafted a Cleveland.com letter to the editor, outlining the secretary’s philosophy on the need for greater transparency in Ohio’s campaign finance system. Read more about his statements and his call for legislative change here.  

Campaign Finance

Sandusky, Ohio, deems Election Day a paid holiday for city employees

In an effort to show its dedication to diversity, the city of Sandusky, Ohio, will no longer recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday. Instead, the city will give Election Day off to its over 200 government employees, according to The Washington Post. Eric Wobser, Sandusky’s city manager, hopes this decision will set an example for local private companies. The announcement occurs in the midst of a partisan debate over a bill that would make the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November a national holiday, an attempt to increase voter accessibility.

Campaign Finance, Election Law

FEC announces contribution limits for 2019–2020 elections

Announced February, 8, 2019, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) increased the individual contribution limit for the 2019–2020 election cycle to $2,800 per candidate. The Federal Election Campaign Act requires the FEC to adjust these limits every two years, based on inflation rates. The coordinated party expenditure limits and the lobbyist bundling threshold for 2019 have also been adjusted. All updated contribution limits are outlined in a chart prepared by the FEC.

Campaign Finance

Campaign funds can be used for cybersecurity-related expenses

Recently, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued advisory opinion 2018-15, allowing “members of Congress [to] use campaign funds for cybersecurity-related expenses for their personal electronic devices.” This newly-approved opinion permits members, and provides a funding source, to protect personal and private accounts and devices against potential hackers and cyberattacks.  

Campaign Finance

Columbus approves new campaign finance contribution limits

On January 14, 2019, Columbus City Council voted to approve new campaign finance contribution limits. Individual contributions are now limited to a total of $12,707.79 per year, the same limit set for State of Ohio officials. The council also amended legislation to require any candidate or group raising $1,000 or more to file campaign finance reports. These city ordinances are scheduled to go into effect March 1.  

Campaign Finance

Campaign finance changes coming to Columbus

On November 28, 2018, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced new campaign finance proposals that would limit individual contributions to $12,707.79. Currently, the City of Columbus does not cap campaign contributions, and if passed, this new amount would mirror the contribution limit currently set for State of Ohio officials. Critics argue that the proposed amount is too high, as compared to limits of $5,000 and $1,000 in Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively. Columbus City Council will vote on these proposed changes at its December 10 meeting. 

Campaign Finance

Reporting tips for local ballot issue spending

Much has been written about campaign spending and disclosures – analyzing every tier of government from the federal level to city hall. Now at the close of another election season, it may be helpful to review a potentially overlooked aspect of campaign spending and disclosure: corporate spending in support or opposition of a local ballot measure.

Ohio law permits a corporation to support a ballot issue political action committee (PAC) or levy committee or to spend independently to support or oppose a local ballot measure. Either way, the law requires an itemization of the corporate expenditures.

This is where the reporting can get tricky. Expenditures are often considered direct spending (i.e., a monetary contribution, purchasing yard signs, advertising, consulting fees, etc.). However, the definition of expenditure can also include internal staff time or the use of office resources dedicated to supporting or opposing the ballot issue. Compliant reporting is accomplished when the Ohio Secretary of State’s 30-B-1Form (for contributions to support a PAC or levy committee) or 30-B-2 Form (when the corporation acts independently or there is no established PAC) is filed with the board of elections in the county where the issue is to appear on the ballot.

As always, strong record keeping and organization is the best way to avoid any reporting issues. Additionally, filers may find it easier to report the expenditures as they occur, as opposed to filing only on the prescribed deadlines.

While these considerations will likely be helpful for those supporting or opposing local ballot measures, bear in mind that some charter cities have their own campaign finance restrictions and disclosure requirements in addition to state requirements.

Campaign Finance
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