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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

News

New disclosure rules apply 'truth serum' to Ohio campaigns

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010

According to Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, new rules approved last week will apply a "truth serum" to Ohio election campaigns.

Brunner recommended the rules, approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, to deal with the unprecedented Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision in January.

Both Brunner and the League of Women Voters have commented on the millions of dollars in secret money poured into November's elections by anonymous corporate and union interests. According to Brunner, "This fall it was like living in the 'Wild, Wild West' of campaign advertising."

As Brunner prepares to leave office, she pushed for permanent rules, which will take effect next week and apply to future elections.

Brunner indicated that the new rules will require better disclosure by letting voters know:

1) That a campaign ad has been paid for by a corporation, nonprofit corporation, or labor organization;

2) How much has been spent;

3) Who was paid for an ad for or against a candidate or committee;

4) That a campaign ad has been authorized by a candidate or committee, including a website for more information (media outlets will be prohibited from running ads that do not contain this information);

Further, corporations and businesses owned 20 percent or more by foreign citizens may not try to influence Ohio elections; and corporations, individuals, and businesses that have been awarded state or federal money within the last year may not influence Ohio elections with independent expenditures.

Brunner added that the new rules have "teeth" to go after corporations, nonprofit corporations, and labor organizations and the candidates and committees they support who break the rules and coordinate their efforts.

"Even though we can't change Citizens United in Ohio, we can apply 'truth serum' to make sure citizens' voices remain strong despite its effects," Brunner said.