Columbus, Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - The Ohio Elections Commission was asked today by supporters of State Issue 3 to find that the front group for a West Virginia-based casino company – the so-called “TruthPAC” – is in violation of state election laws for making false statements in TV and radio ads currently running throughout Ohio.
The complaint was filed by Pasquale “Pat” Manzi, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbus and Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, which is supporting passage of Issue 3.
The charge centers on TV and radio ads that question – using false statements – the proponents’ assertion that the jobs created through passage of Issue 3 would go to out-of-state workers, not to Ohioans. In his affidavit, Manzi states that TruthPAC’s ads make false statements “with actual knowledge of their falsity, or with reckless disregard for the truth,” in violation of Section 3517.22(B) of the Ohio Revised Code.
The commercials reference a report prepared by the Economics Center for Education & Research of the University of Cincinnati College of Business. The report was commissioned by the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, sponsor of Issue 3.
The TruthPAC ad in question claims “the jobs that are created will go to skilled, experienced casino workers from out-of-state.”
However, the University of Cincinnati study specifically notes that “the data suggest that the vast majority of new casino employees are anticipated to live in Ohio…,” in direct contradiction of the TruthPAC ads.
The complaint also cites as false two statements contained in TruthPAC’s official arguments against Issue 3 as submitted to the Secretary of State.
If the Elections Commission finds the ads or the statements in the arguments against the issue to be in violation of state election laws, it can refer the offending campaign committee to a prosecuting attorney for prosecution.
Section 3517.22(B) of the Revised Code states (emphasis added):
(B) No person, during the course of any campaign in advocacy of or in opposition to the adoption of any ballot proposition or issue, by means of campaign material, including sample ballots, an advertisement on radio or television or in a newspaper or periodical, a public speech, a press release, or otherwise, shall knowingly and with intent to affect the outcome of such campaign do any of the following:
(1) Falsely identify the source of a statement, issue statements under the name of another person without authorization, or falsely state the endorsement of or opposition to a ballot proposition or issue by a person or publication;
(2) Post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate, a false statement, either knowing the same to be false or acting with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, that is designed to promote the adoption or defeat of any ballot proposition or issue.
YesOn3 vs TruthPAC OEC Complaint