CAMPAIGN FINANCE Group grades officials


The organization gave F's to two failed candidates for the state House.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Most elected state officials, including those from the Mahoning Valley, received grades of A from Ohio Citizen Action for their campaign disclosure efforts.
But a few didn't fare so well.
For example, state Sen. Timothy Ryan of Warren, D-32nd, was listed among 16 legislators who need improvement when it comes to identifying the employer of campaign contributors.
Ryan, a first-term legislator, failed to disclose the employers of 19 percent of his campaign contributors who gave more than $100, says a report of 1999-2000 data released Monday by Ohio Citizen Action, a 150,000-member public advocacy group.
But the problem is not necessarily Ryan's fault, said Laura Yeomans, Ohio Citizen Action's research director.
Ryan received outdated in-kind contribution forms at an Ohio secretary of state-sponsored seminar on candidate campaign training, she said.
"The secretary of state's office needs to create a better auditing system and give out only up-to-date forms," Yeomans said.
Other candidates: Ryan was the only Valley candidate elected in November to receive a grade below A, which was given to those who listed at least 90 percent of their campaign contributors' employers.
Two failed 2000 candidates -- Republican Todd Bonar of Cortland, who lost to state Rep. Anthony J. Latell Jr. of Girard, D-67th, and Democrat John Wargo of Salineville, who lost to state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd -- both received F's from Ohio Citizen Action.
Bonar received only one contribution over $100 and did not report that person's employer, thus scoring 0 on the organization's report. Wargo got a score of 12.5 because he listed the employer of only one of the eight contributors who gave him more than $100.
Overall, state candidates disclosed 92 percent of their contributors' employers for 1999-2000, down from 95 percent in 1998, when the organization last compiled this data. Ohio candidates received about $38 million in contributions in 1999 and 2000, with $13.3 million from individuals who gave more than $100 each, the report states.
State political leaders -- including Gov. Bob Taft, Treasurer Joseph Deters, Auditor Jim Petro and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell -- received A's from Ohio Citizen Action. Deters brought his score up from an F, which he got on his 1998 report.
skolnick@vindy.com

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