OHIO Taft seeks a bill to revise laws on campaign finance
Democrats said Taft's call is the same old song.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Gov. Bob Taft says he wants the Ohio Legislature to send him a bill before the end of the year for his signature that would revamp Ohio's campaign-finance laws.
Taft, joined by fellow Republican state officials, called Monday for legislative approval of a bill that would:
* Require full disclosure of political party operating accounts.
* Require full disclosure of contributions and expenditures of issue-advocacy groups.
* Eliminate county political party state candidate funds.
* Require more frequent financial reporting by political candidates.
"These are common-sense real reforms," Taft told a Statehouse news conference. "We will enact campaign finance reforms by the end of the year."
In recent weeks, three people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in connection to a Cuyahoga County grand jury probe of what prosecutors have called a scheme for a rogue broker to secure business from state Treasurer Joseph T. Deters' office in exchange for campaign cash.
Deters, also a Republican, was never charged in connection with the case and has denied in press reports trading treasury business for campaign contributions.
Also, federal and state investigators are probing possible strong-arm, fund raising and political tactics reportedly used by two prominent Republican operatives.
Those probes could include the possibly unlawful use of secret county party operating funds for political campaigns and other activities, according to press reports.
State Rep. Jon Husted, a Dayton-area Republican who is seen by many as the likely next House speaker next year after term limits claim current Speaker Larry Householder, said he thinks a campaign-finance reform bill will be enacted by year's end.
So does state Sen. Bill M. Harris, an Ashland County Republican who has positioned himself to become president of the Ohio Senate next year.
"I think we'll definitely pass legislation on that by the end of the year," Harris said.
Lawmakers aren't expected to return from summer recess until after the November elections.
A likely vehicle for the proposed campaign-finance reforms could be a Senate-passed bill that would revise campaign finance laws for the judiciary. That bill is pending before the House State Government Committee.
Ohio Senate Democrats scoffed at GOP plans to reform the campaign finance laws.
They noted a similar announcement by Taft and other Republican leaders two years ago on the same topic.
"It's all talk -- press conference after press conference," Senate Minority Leader Gregory L. DiDonato said in a prepared statement. DiDonato is a Democrat from Dennison.