Dear congressional candidate:
The Akron Beacon Journal and major Ohio print, radio and broadcast news organizations are collaborating to research and report on the rise of outside spending in the presidential election and Ohio’s congressional races, and how this influx of money from non-candidate groups and donors from outside of Ohio is impacting elections, Democracy and the voice of Ohio voters.
Pew Research shows that a majority of Americans believe outside influence, including money from interest groups and campaign donations, is corrupting the political system and our elected officials.
“A large majority of Americans (76%) - including identical shares of Republicans and Democrats - say money has a greater role on politics than in the past. Moreover, large majorities of both Democrats (84%) and Republicans (72%) favor limiting the amount of money individuals and organizations can spend on campaigns and issues,” Pew reported last year. See more here.
Considering the historically high levels of angst among Americans, what solutions can you offer to ameliorate their concerns that money has corrupted politics and elections? And what specifically can you do as a candidate or elected official to address this concern?
Among the participants in this project: The (Toledo) Blade, the Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, The (Canton) Repository, the Columbus Dispatch, WEWS Cleveland, WKRC Cincinnati, WSYX Columbus, WKSU/Ohio Public Radio, Gannett papers, and several other dailies and television and radio stations.
Please provide your responses via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (330-996-3792) to Doug Livingston at the Beacon Journal no later than May 4 at 5 p.m. Thank you for your time and consideration.
After only a third responded to the initial request, the Beacon Journal and Toledo Blade placed calls to all non-respondents the week of May 9 and received several more.
Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper:
“Ohioans are concerned that money has corrupted our politics and elections — and as Ohio Democrats, we’re concerned, too.
“When voters see charter school operators write big checks to Governor John Kasich and other Ohio Republicans and then see charter school reform efforts derailed or defanged in the statehouse, it’s not shocking that Ohioans may start to think that wealthy special interests are running the statehouse.
“Our government needs to work for everyone, not just people who can write big campaign checks.
“At the federal level, we must address the flood of ‘dark money’ contributions by ending Citizens United and empowering small donors, so candidates can spend less time fundraising and more time listening to their constituents. At the state level, we need to end the pay-to-play culture that dominates the statehouse and state agencies — we need more transparency, more competitive bidding of contracts and more disclosure when bidders contribute to politicians.
“There’s one final suggestion, which may surprise some Ohioans — we also could do more to empower state parties, which are the most transparent institutions in American politics. Everything we do is reported, unlike the shadowy social welfare groups and super PACs that are spending tens of millions to influence our elections. Stronger state parties would lead to more accountability and transparency.”
Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges:
“When people donate money to the state party, they do so to support our grassroots programs and Republican candidates. A chunk of the money raised by the party goes towards paying for staff, operational expenses and political programs.”
Incumbent Republican Rob Portman:
“I have no control over outside spending in this race. This is all part of campaigning in 2016. Whereas Ted Strickland is solely reliant on outside special interest money — including the $1 million currently on air from Senate Majority PAC and the $10 million from the DSCC announced last week — I am focused on running my campaign and spreading my message across Ohio. I can point to nearly 50 of our bills that became law and are helping Ohioans. I’ve passed legislation to combat the heroin and prescription drug crisis, end human trafficking, improve worker training, and create more construction jobs through faster permitting. While Ted Strickland is running an ‘invisible’ campaign, I’m running on my record of achieving results for Ohio families. I’m excited to talk about my record.”
Democrat Ted Strickland:
“I share the incredible frustration that Ohioans and Americans have about the role of money in politics. We should not allow the well-connected and ultra wealthy to hijack our democratic process and rig the system to elect those like Senator Portman who are pushing their agenda at Ohio’s expense. I am proud to have earned the endorsement of the group End Citizens United, who called me a ‘campaign finance reform champion.’
“In the U.S. Senate, I will support several proposals to address this problem. First, I believe Citizens United was a disastrous decision — I will work to overturn it so that our country cannot be bought and sold to the highest bidders, and I will support Supreme Court judges that will put our democracy before the interests of corporate billionaires. I also support the DISCLOSE Act, which would improve the reporting and disclosure of political spending in federal elections, and I support increasing the transparency of the FCC’s public file database to make it more easily searchable. Since last year, my campaign has also been filing our campaign fundraising report electronically with the Federal Election Commission — increasing disclosure and saving money for taxpayers. I want to require this kind of electronic filing for all Senate campaigns by supporting the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act.
“Senator Portman and I have very different views on this issue. He voted against reversing the Citizens United decision and against the DISCLOSE Act, preventing greater transparency of campaign donors and political spending. The group End Citizens United said it best: ‘Portman has stood squarely in the way of ending the big money that is corrupting Washington,’ and ‘he’s become a part of the problem.’”
Editor’s note: DISCLOSE Act refers to the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act.
Green Party Joseph DeMare:
“As with many issues, the Green Party’s position on money in politics is in agreement with the majority of Americans. The incredible amounts of money that have poured into the political system, especially corporate money and billionaire donations, are literally destroying Democracy in America. I can’t “ameliorate the concerns” of the public on this issue. Money HAS had a corrupting influence on our political system and elected officials.
“However, as a candidate for the Green Party, I do have a commitment to solving this problem. First of all, Green Party candidates refuse to take ANY money from corporations or corporate PAC’s. We will only take donations from actual human beings. This brings us to the next step in saving our Democracy, reversing the Citizens’ United decision. Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. The Supreme Court created this crisis by pretending that they are. This is not surprising coming from a Court that appointed George W. Bush president in 2000, even though the full, final recount of the votes in Florida showed that Al Gore had actually won the election. One of the reasons I am running for Senate is that we need to pass a law overturning Citizens’ United.
“Finally, I am running my campaign in a way that demonstrates clearly that people are more important than money. I was able to secure a line on the ballot in November because over 100 Greens helped me get signatures from more than 20 counties in Ohio. Everyone who gathered petition signatures for me was a volunteer. The entire effort, which took more than six months, cost less than $2,000. The largest single contribution I’ve receive to date has only been $200. There have been many candidates from the ordinary parties that have failed to get on the state wide ballot, even with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend. We succeeded because we Greens passionately believe in Grassroots Democracy. It’s one of our Ten Key Principles. Money doesn’t win elections, people do. That’s why I am confident that when the people of Ohio find out about my candidacy. We will be able to defeat the ordinary parties, even with all their money.
“Our Presidential candidate, Jill Stein, also refuses corporate money. In fact, she has qualified for federal matching funds for her campaign, both because she believes political campaigns should publicly funded and because accepting matching funds also means that she must accept spending limits. That is why most politicians from the two dominant parties refuse matching funds, because they want to be able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. That is immoral.
“I plan to win this election spending only about $50,000. The best way for the people of Ohio to stop the flood of money into politics is to vote for a candidate who refuses to dive into that flood. As the polls show, the vast majority of people want a Party free of the corrupting influence of money. The Green Party IS such a party. There is not a single professional Green politician in the entire state of Ohio. Every one of us has to work for a living outside of politics. Yet, our Party continues to grow, and we continue to run great candidates. I am a machinist. I am running because, like most Ohioans, I understand that it’s time for us to overthrow the corrupt two party system. By sending a machinist directly from the shop floor to the Senate floor, Ohioans will send a resounding message to the whole world that America’s Democracy is NOT for sale.
Independent Scott Rupert:
“It is true; money has corrupted electoral politics. This is one of the problems my campaign exists to address. In fact, the sentiments recorded in that Pew report reflect many of the reasons I began this project to ‘change the way politics is done’, back in 2009.
“The average American is every bit as qualified to govern as those we elect. Our nation’s founders apparently believed this when they constituted the requirements for holding federal office at nothing more than age and citizenship, and I am here to inspire them to do so.
“In fact, the solution to the problem of money and corruption in politics already exists. When the founders enumerated the powers granted to the federal government — a government the states were creating, not to act as an authority over them, but simply to provide the security to protect the states from outside threats, and the infrastructure to facilitate their future prosperity — they defined them in such limited fashion as to ensure against federal interference into the lives of the people and their businesses and, for that matter, into the governance of the states. The Bill of Rights, while not meant to be an all-inclusive list of limitations on government, was ABSOLUTELY [sic] intended to limit federal government.
“All of that, to say this: If federal government is bound by the Constitution — the Constitution as written, not as interpreted — special interests and their lobbyists have little to gain by contributing to the campaigns of politicians at the federal level. There is no way, human nature being what it is, to create a law that will solve any problem indefinitely. And I would argue that asking corrupt politicians to solve the problem of corruption in politics is somewhat silly. The Constitution gives the power for addressing the problems with government to the people, but we have to be willing to exercise it. We have to be willing to get up and play a role in the process of self-governance, beyond just casting a vote.
“I said, in the beginning, this is one of the problems my campaign exists to address, so let me campaign for a minute: I don’t think it has to cost millions for a candidate to win an election. If I say things worth repeating, others will repeat them — for free. If I am persistent, in time I will win an election. I run as an independent candidate because, as the Pew survey suggests, Republicans and Democrats agree on a lot of things, with regard to the problems with government. The issues they disagree on are those best addressed by state or local governments, where we have more influence, not to mention the power to ‘vote with our feet,’ by moving from state to state, or city to city, applying the same free-market principles to government as we do to groceries and fast-food restaurants. We don’t make laws — at lease, not yet — that demand every fast-food establishment serve a great tasting burger. We go where we get the best burger and the stores compete to serve it. There is no reason why this can’t apply to state and local governments as well.
“My campaign is built around small donations — $20 or $50 — and the participation of my supporters — tell two friends. I’m and average American truck driver, who believes in limited government and accepts my personal responsibility for limiting it. If you believe I’m the right person for the job, help me win this November. In 2012, the Rupert for Senate campaign earned nearly 5 percent of the vote statewide on less than $6,000 while the Dem’s and the GOP’s candidates spent around $77 million (PAC money included). In 2016, I think we can win. If not, I’ll be back in 2018. I do this, not because I am committed to being a Senator, but because I am committed to solving the problems of money and division in electoral politics.”
Independent candidate Thomas Connors:
“I agree that the influence of major donors in politics is causing serious problems. This is evident in the divergence between the policy preferences of the average voters and establishment politicians on many significant issues. However, the solution of limiting political expression by outside groups creates a dilemma. Limiting such expression, would involve placing limits on newspapers, movies, internet etc. Otherwise any limits would be easily evaded. Political interests could just buy a presence in these formats and use them for political purposes. Limits on outside groups would require an elaborate government bureaucracy placing limits on free speech in the political arena, where free speech is most important.
“An appropriate solution would be to encourage small donors with tax credits of up to $500. Countering the influence of moneyed interests does not require matching the money put in by such interests. It merely requires enough to get the message out. We see examples of this in the current political campaign.”
Michele Young, Democrat
“There is too much money in politics and as a result, special interests wield far too much power. I can’t presume to fix it on my own, but I can promise that I will only serve the people. Period. Here are a few things I would support that could ameliorate the problem.
“One is to strengthen disclosure laws, through the FEC, FCC, IRS, and the SEC, which would force large donors to come out from the shadows and be held publicly accountable. An executive action by the President would help as well, in that Federal contractors could be forced to disclose their political spending. According to Public Citizen, an executive action of this sort would reach at least 70% of Fortune 100 companies. Ultimately, the American people are best served when they have a clear idea of who is spending money to influence their elections.
“Second, I would propose a complete report card that shows every vote and any links to donors. If we can map the genetic code, we can certainly map the tangled web of influence that exists in the shadows.
“Third, I would propose adopting state efforts on a federal level. If we allow taxpayers to set aside small donations to fund all political campaigns, public funding would level the playing field and help push our representatives to be accountable to their constituents.
“Fourth, after the Citizen’s United decision, corporations and super PACs are now allowed to take in and spend an unlimited amount of money on influencing our country’s elections. This ruling undermines the vitality of our democracy and I would support a Constitutional Amendment to overturn it.”
Steve Chabot, incumbent Republican
“I can certainly understand why many Ohio voters are frustrated by the amount of advertising from outside groups. The airwaves have been flooded with ads, particularly during the presidential primary, and it is not always clear who is paying for those commercials.
“However, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that money spent on campaigns and election activities is the same as speech, and is therefore protected under the First Amendment. And so when Congress passes legislation to limit spending by outside groups, the Court views those limitations skeptically and often finds them unconstitutional. That is what happened in Citizens United, and the result has been the increased spending we are seeing today.
“Given the Court’s rulings, the only way we can effectively limit spending by outside groups is through a constitutional amendment, which would require the approval by two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, and then ratification by three-quarters of the states. And frankly that doesn’t appear likely to happen anytime soon.”
Brad Wenstrup, incumbent Republican, and William Smith, Democrat.
Joyce Beatty, incumbent Democrat, and John Adams, Republican.
Janet Garrett, Democrat (opponent incumbent Jim Jordan, Republican, did not respond)
“As a candidate, money in politics is supremely on my mind. My opponent, Jim Jordan, Chairman of the so called Freedom Caucus has over a million dollars in his war chest. Almost all of it is from big donors outside our State. For the current two-year election cycle, according to data taken from FEC reports:
• Jim Jordan has received $486,149 dollars, a whopping 48% of which has come from PACs ($233,896)
• Less than 12% ($55,526) has come from small donors (donations under $200)
• The remaining 40% ($195,726) has come in large donations from less than 200 donors!
“Conclusion: upwards of 88% of his donations have either come from PACs or large donors.
“His ties to special interests are alarming for a Representative from a mostly rural Ohio district. The tiny percentage of small donations shows a lack of any effort to even seek donations from regular citizens since he doesn’t even require their support and it shows in his votes where his loyalty rests.
“The chairman has many friends among the big moneyed interests who want him to block regulations that protect the workers but cut into their profits. He is very good at this. Jim Jordan is the face of gridlock in Congress. He has not sponsored a single piece of legislation that has helped the people in his district. He has taken a number of votes that have actively hurt middle class and low income people in his district. For example, he voted against the Violence Against Women’s act. He voted against equal pay for equal work for women. He voted against middle class tax cuts but he supports tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
“I am a retired teacher. I am running for this seat because I am sick of the way working people are being treated. If voters are worried about money in politics, they have the tools in their hands to fix it. It’s called voting. We can vote out the corrupt legislators who, like Jim Jordan, are just water boys for the rich and powerful. What it requires of us is to study up. Do your research. Don’t just vote for the incumbent without looking to see where his money comes from. “My campaign is strictly grassroots which means we only get donations from individuals. If you want that kind of representation, you have to support it with small dollar donations, volunteer and vote.
“Once elected, one of the top items on my agenda will be election reform. I would push for publicly funded campaigns. That way, both sides get the same amount of money and there isn’t an unfair advantage given to those who are corrupt. I would push for equity in voting opportunity. I would like to get rid of gerrymandering, closed primary elections and the antiquated and unnecessary Electoral College. Let candidates win by the popular vote. “Then we will achieve true democracy. That is what America is about.”
Bob Latta, incumbent Republican, and James Neau Jr., Democrat.
Michael Lorentz, Democrat (opponent incumbent Bill Johnson, Republican, did not respond)
“As a candidate for Congress I now understand why most small town servants are reluctant to run for a federal office. Over the past few years I personally have been bombarded with fund raisers working on different campaigns. To think it takes in excess of $40 million to run for Senate, which is what we read was spent to defeat Sherrod Brown?
“Let’s place limits on TV commercial time, limit radio air time, and put the old shoes to the ground. If a person really wants to be a Congressman or Senator let them prove it, not buy it. For the most part name recognition gets more people elected than does deeds. A true servant to his constituents will be out in the district looking to correct the problems not sending reps or emails.
“Truly, no matter how my election goes I would support a ceiling on campaign spending and maybe, just maybe, we could then elect the right person not the one with the most TV time and money. Take the politics out of politics.”
Roy Rich, Democrat (opponent incumbent Bob Gibbs, Republican, did not respond)
“We cannot ameliorate their concerns until we remove the influence that big money has on our Congressional elections.
“Folks like me, who have chosen to run to give a voice to the people, are at a huge financial disadvantage in our campaigns due to the big money influence in politics. We rely on our grassroots efforts to get our message out.
In reviewing my opponent’s million dollar plus campaign fund, and correlating the committees that he sits on with his donor list, the cause-effect link, and the corresponding influence, seems obvious to me.
“However, all is not lost. For those of us standing up and running our bare bones campaigns, our faith is in those very people mentioned in the question. It is those regular folks on both sides of the aisle who are now recognizing and publicizing this issue. Make no mistake, big money donations to those in Congress have shaped our laws, allowing the mega-corporations and ultra rich to pay little or no taxes, while the working class continues to bear more and more of the tax burden.
“So, what can be done?
“First, the media can expose these ‘relationships’, by doing exactly what is being done here, asking for input, investigating, and reporting. Show the people of a district how their representatives are taking money from entities outside their district and state which are of absolutely no benefit to the people in that district.
“Secondly, we must all spread the word, and let people know that they can investigate this information for themselves. Donor information is readily and publicly available at Opensecrets.org or at the FEC.gov site. An informed electorate is a wise electorate.
“In my short time campaigning in the ten counties that make up the 7th District, I have asked folks on both sides of the aisle to refer to these sites. I ask them to examine the donors, and to decide for themselves what that information means.
“And finally, we need to ferret out the corruption in every office at every level. While the law does not allow for lobbyists to offer a congress person a campaign donation in exchange for a ‘favor’, the law on this is weak. We must no longer allow the ‘wink and a nod’ mentality that seems to exist between politicians and the lobbyists that facilitate these campaign donations. We must reject the idea that large donations by PACs, Corporations, or special interest groups have no relation to legislation being proposed by those entities. We must reform the laws that allow this to happen.
“I am a proponent of outlawing any donation directly to a candidate, candidates committee, or PAC supporting a specific candidate or agenda, for candidates who sit on committees affecting that donor’s interests, or who may vote on legislation for the benefit of those interests.
“I suggest, instead, a political donation fund that all congress people and general election candidates would share equally. That would make the industry, special interest or 1 %-ers, convince the majority of Congress, without the influence created by directed donations, that the proposal they support is good for the people, not just their interests.
“Setting limits on the amount a candidate can have in their campaign fund or limiting the amount that can be spent in any one campaign are also options. Limiting the amounts spent by Super PACs and requiring disclosure of contributors is yet another area to be addressed.
“For too long We the People have allowed this to go on. Comprehensive campaign finance reform must be a priority in the next Congress.”
District 8 (open seat)
Warren Davidson, Republican, via spokesman Adam Hewitt (opponent Democrat Corey Foister did not respond)
“Warren understands the concerns about this issue. The best cure for money in politics is transparency. Contributions are already limited, and further restricting contributions would be restricting free speech. As political parties have become more fragmented, individual voters and small donors have moved political contributions away from parties and toward individual candidates and issue groups. One potential change that he is studying is a recent proposal that would restrict the actual officeholders/candidates from personally soliciting contributions.”
Marcy Kaptur, D-9. (opponent Donald Philip Larson, Republican, did not respond)
“As the author of a proposed Constitutional Amendment drafted with the assistance of Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe (H.J. Res. 38 — to grant Congress and the States the power to establish limits on contributions and expenditures in elections for public office), I have long advocated for real campaign finance reform. My proposed amendment has been introduced, year after year after year, spanning nearly two decades over multiple Congresses. Yet, neither Democratic nor Republican leadership have allowed it to be considered for hearings or debate. Often, leadership positions in the institution hinge on proficiency at fundraising from outside interests. This corrosive system of public begging, and colleague luring, must be reformed for the future of our Republic.
“Campaign fundraising has reached historic proportion for both the Executive and Legislative branches. It is clear that political party fundraising has been moved directly into Congress, at levels never imagined by the Founders. Past legislative efforts at campaign finance reforms seem to have only resulted in more money pouring into the system.
“As more money has poured in, a lower percentage of Americans have voted as a share of our electorate, signifying a diminishing belief their votes matter.
“Campaign fundraising and spending must be tamed or our Republic’s espousal of representative government will continue to be at risk.”
Robert Klepinger, Democrat (opponent incumbent Republican Michael Turner did not respond)
“If I understand your question, you want to know what I can do to let people know that money hasn’t corrupted American politics? Well the simple answer is yes, it does and it has. The number I have seen is that 96 percent of the people with more money win. I will not raise more money than my opponent. My largest donation was a $1,000 from Sen. [Sherrod] Brown’s PAC. Family, friends and coworkers make up the rest of my political donations. I have not as yet filed with the FEC. Rep. [Mike] Turner has filed a complaint with the FEC because I have failed to file. I’ve ask the Ohio Democratic Party and the Montgomery County Democratic Party for help and they don’t care to help me. I am on my own. Turner also got snarky with me because I asked some of the same people to give me money that gave him money. It was an amateur mistake. I’m sorry I did it. It was a waste of time. I got no money from any of the letters I wrote.
“What should people do? It’s simple; stop electing the same people. The most recent Gallup poll on the approval rating of congress is at 17 percent approval, 79 percent disapproval and 4 percent had no opinion. How do people think things will change if they keep electing the same people? Once someone is elected to congress they are very likely to be re-elected. The U.S. Constitution says you have to be 25 years old and have lived in the country for seven years to be eligible to be a Representative. I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree. I’ve worked as a professional for the past 22 years. I am a teacher that has been disrespected for too long by the Ohio legislature and Governor. I have no wife or children to embarrass if I lose. I am doing this [to] give people the choice to elect a person who wants to do his civic duty and participate and not make a career of politics. I have no ambition to be a powerful politician. I don’t want to be a congressman for life or even deep into my sixties, seventies or eighties like a lot of the people there now. I want to do good things for most of the people who live in my district. I want to make their lives better. I want to work together with my colleagues, compromise and pass legislation. The reason that congress is broken is that the Republicans have only one goal, to make the President of the United States look bad. They do not want to compromise; they don’t care to pass laws to make the vast majority of people healthy wealthy or smart. They simply do not care. I do. It’s unlikely I will win. And that’s a shame.”
Marcia Fudge, incumbent Democrat (opponent Republican Beverly Goldstein did not respond)
“I believe in transparency and disclosure of funds in political campaigning. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 430, the DISCLOSE Act.”
Ed Albertson, Democrat (opponent incumbent Republican Pat Tiberi did not respond)
“First and foremost, Citizens United needs to be corrected by legislation and that is unlikely given the current cast of characters in Congress. Citizens United gives Congressional Candidates (especially incumbents) access to vast sums of money that put beneficiaries of this money beyond the reach of challengers who are less endowed by that money. “The effect also suppresses truth and negatively impacts democracy.
One antidote is to elect newcomers who have less access to such money (like myself) and who are not corrupted by this current process.
“A second remedy is for candidates (like myself) to spend less on campaigns. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is something within the realm of control of every candidate, at every level.
“A third solution is for newcomers to office to work together and pass Election Reforms that limit money for all candidates, provide publicly-funded forums (such as debates and town hall-style meetings) where issues are discussed and where entertainment recedes from the process.
“A fourth solution is for newcomers to office to work together and pass legislation that declares once and for all that business entities (corporations) are not people, are not entitled to the same rights as people, and cannot exercise rights that are reserved to people in our Constitution.
“Big money is a Big problem and until we get serious about solving it and demand better from our elected officials, the corruptive and corrosive influence of such vast amounts of money will degrade our political process, our government, and our democracy.”
Tim Ryan, incumbent Democrat
“We live in a post Citizen’s United world, where the influence of money in politics continues to grow. I believe that each and every citizen in this country is created equal, and that every vote should be worth the same. Unfortunately the flood of dark money into our elections at every level have given a small number of extremely wealthy citizens a disproportionate amount of influence — I find this fundamentally wrong. Why should we be perpetuating a system in which millionaires and billionaires can single handedly change the outcome of an American election? We cannot continue down this path of increasing disparity between who can participate in our democracy and to what extent. It is time we stand up as elected officials and do the right thing.
“[I] have long supported legislation that would create a publicly funded election system in the United States to get private donors and political organizations out of the process entirely.”
Richard Morckel, Republican:
“It is amazing, we have a Republic form of government in these United States and we are at $20 trillion in national debt, going on $22, $23 trillion thanks to kicking the burden down the road — $10 trillion of that debt incurred in just the last 8 years or so.
“This debt has something of a similar relationship to the available money in politics.
“The money in politics is regarded as a free speech, yet this expression of this free speech, is a subversion of the Republic, blotting out the grievances, petitions and the vote of real citizens.
“If Super PAC money in politics is an expression of free speech, what is the coercion of the elected state governments of North Carolina and Georgia?
“Convention of States therefore is necessary and with disdain for the Federal Government.”
David Joyce, incumbent Republican, and Michael Wager, Democrat.
Steve Stivers, incumbent Republican, and Scott Wharton, Democrat. No responses.
Keith Mundy, D-16 (opponent incumbent Republican Jim Renacci did not respond)
“Today, new forms of big money threaten to undermine American democracy. Citizens United and other court rulings obliterated a century of campaign finance laws. Now a handful of special interests threaten to dominate political funding, often through Super PACs and shadowy nonprofits. Public trust in government has plummeted.
“The Federal Election Commission, which has more oversight of the ‘political’ part of ‘politically active nonprofits,’ is about as good at effectively policing dark money groups as your cat is at catching reflections on the wall.
“The list of nonprofits that have reported political spending to the FEC and have been denied tax-exempt status by the IRS can be summed up in a single bullet point, while the list of politically active groups with the IRS’ seal of approval is getting longer and longer.
“The FEC, for its part, is a federal agency that most resembles your stubborn grandparents bickering about whose fault it is there’s a leak in the basement. They fight for a little while, then give each other the silent treatment until the basement fills up and, finally, decide that there’s nothing they can do now because the basement’s ruined.
“And then there’s Congress, which, well, obviously makes things worse.
“You can look at the daisy chains of contributions in the Koch network, for example, and start to understand that as the money flows through each node in the network, it racks up revenue and expenditure totals that exist only on paper and can later be used to offset political spending without any of the groups having to worry about disclosing donors in the future.
“But there’s one more thing the lawyers know that you can’t do anything about in the short term: None of these groups will have to report any of these transfers until long after the election is over. Indeed, by the time all of the dark money groups active in the 2016 race so far file their annual tax returns.
“The best way to stop the buying of elections would be to not allow any candidate to raise more money then they will gross from the elected position they are a candidate for. We need to put an end to the buying of federal and state office seats. No other (PACs and Dark) monies should be used in a campaign … period!”
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