Monday, June 11, 2012

GUEST COLUMN: "Strengthening Ohio’s Campaign Finance Law"

St. Rep. Danny Bubp
By St. Rep. Danny Bubp

Election season is upon us, a time of widespread anticipation. In addition to this excitement, elections often spark a close examination of campaign finances. Candidates are under a microscope as the public judges their qualifications, political visions and personal ethics. We also look to see that organizations contributing to their campaigns are acting transparently. It is crucial that campaign finance laws properly regulate who may give and receive funds and how they are spent.

To this end, Governor Kasich recently signed into law House Bill 326, legislation that creates a criminal sanction for the use of public funds for political objectives. Tax dollars should not bankroll any sort of political activity during election time or otherwise, and any official who engages in such practice will be subject to a first-degree misdemeanor charge. This penalty is comparable to the sanction for other campaign finance law violations.

The language in House Bill 326 includes political action committees, political parties and campaign committees, among others, in its list of groups that officials are prohibited from funding with public money. All such groups have a hand in promoting certain political causes and candidates. While these activities are a legitimate part of the American election process, they should always be funded from private sources.

The money you pay to the government in taxes is to be used for public services that benefit our citizens. Your hard earned dollars were never meant to be spent for political purposes, and this legislation provides a further deterrent to illegally using these funds in campaigns. It is crucial that we hold the entire election process to high ethical standards, and for this reason, I chose to co-sponsor House Bill 326. I am happy to report that the majority of my colleagues in the state legislature feel the same, as the bill received wide bipartisan approval throughout the General Assembly.

Further strengthening Ohio’s campaign finance law will help to stamp out misuse of public funds during future election seasons. Campaign finance violations in Ohio have made the news in recent times, and it is my hope that, with House Bill 326, we can prevent similar situations and send the message that our government does not tolerate this unethical behavior.