Source of do­na­tions hard to track

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL - By Dar­rel Row­land The Colum­bus Dispatch

Did you know Don­ald Trump gave the max­i­mum al­low­able con­tri­bu­tion to help elect Repub­li­can John Ka­sich gover­nor of Ohio? That’s OK. The Don­ald prob­a­bly doesn’t know, ei­ther. The same is al­most cer­tainly true for other “maxed-out” donors. Their names ap­pear as con­trib­u­tors for the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion’s $9 mil­lion ef­fort in Ohio on be­half of Ka­sich. But that com­pi­la­tion ap­par­ently is a loose re­al­ity, an ac­count­ing sleight of hand that rep­re­sents tech­ni­cal com­pli­ance with Ohio cam­paign­fi­nance dis­clo­sure laws but in re­al­ity is an ar­bi­trary list of as­so­ci­a­tion donors used merely to make the num­bers add up.

The as­so­ci­a­tion won’t re­veal ex­actly how it ac­counts for its do­na­tions. Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the as­so­ci­a­tion, said in­ter­nal op­er­a­tions are never dis­cussed pub­licly, but the group “fully com­plied with the law” and ac­tu­ally dis­closed more than legally re­quired.

The Demo­cratic Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion ap­peared to do much the same thing to “doc­u­ment” the nearly $5 mil­lion it spent in the Buck­eye State to help Gov. Ted Strick­land.

The up­shot: Ohio’s watchdog on cam­paign fi­nances, the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice, can’t track those con­tri­bu­tions to see whether they are le­gal.

Au­thor­i­ties can’t tell, for ex­am­ple, if the same Trump dol­lars were im­prop­erly used to sat­isfy pub­lic-dis­clo­sure laws in more than one state. And there’s no way to de­ter­mine whether the Trump money was se­cretly ear­marked for the Buck­eye State, which would be a vi­o­la­tion of Ohio law.

In­ter­est­ingly, even though the as­so­ci­a­tion says the con­tri­bu­tions were not ear­marked, the amounts from Trump and the other ma­jor donors match Ohio’s odd cam­paign-con­tri­bu­tion limit — $11,395 — to the dol­lar.

“It seems like a fic­tion that there’s no ear­mark­ing when the ex­act amount is given,” said out­go­ing Sec­re­tary of State Jen­nifer Brunner, a Demo­crat, when The Dispatch raised ques­tions.

But Schrimpf re­sponds by play­ing his trump card: A U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion this year es­sen­tially de­creed that such groups as the gov­er­nors as­so­ci­a­tions are above state law, he said, be­cause “cor­rup­tion is im­pos­si­ble (and there­fore cam­paign-fi­nance lim­its are un­con­sti­tu­tional) if ad­vo­cacy is con­ducted by a group in­de­pen­dent of a can­di­date and po­lit­i­cal party.”

So, even the limited ac­count­abil­ity pro­vided by the cur­rent cam­paign-fi­nance fil­ings might dis­ap­pear in light of the high court’s con­tro­ver­sial Cit­i­zens United de­ci­sion giv­ing cor­po­ra­tions and la­bor unions free rein to spend money on be­half of cam­paigns across the coun­try. Nei­ther Congress nor the Ohio Gen­eral Assem­bly ap­proved pro­pos­als that would have at­tempted to re­quire such groups to at least dis­close where they got the money. to Repub­li­cans and GOP causes. With about $5.6 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions, the Lind­ner fam­ily is eas­ily

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.