In an effort to promote greater transparency about who makes campaign contributions, outgoing Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner today unveiled a new set of election rules.
The rules, which were approved by the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, is aimed at offsetting some of the impact of the Citizens United ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in January. In the landmark 5-4 decision, the court overturned a lower court’s ruling and removed existing restraints on corporations, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns.
Brunner calls Ohio's new rules “truth serum,” which will help voters learn “vital information” about who's funding campaigns.
Under the rules:
** Corporations, nonprofit groups and labor unions must identify the ads they've paid for and disclose how much they've spent in independent campaign expenditures;
** Corporations, nonprofit groups and labor unions must include their Internet Web addresses so voters can learn more about them. If the information isn't included, media outlets can't use the ads;
** Corporations, nonprofit groups and labor unions must disclose that their ads haven't been authorized by a candidate or committee;
** Independent campaign expenditures by corporations and businesses owned 20 percent or more by foreign citizens are prohibited;
** Corporations, individuals and businesses that were awarded state or federal money through Ohio government are prohibited from making independent campaign expenditures within 12 months of the award;
** If the rules are violated, the Ohio Secretary of State will have the authority to investigate and refer complaints to the Ohio Elections Commission.
"Even though we can't change Citizens United in Ohio, we can apply 'truth serum' to make sure citizens' voices remain strong despite its effects," Brunner said in a prepared statement.
"We have more tools available for us to speak and fight for what we believe in as citizens in the most unique democracy in the world," she added. "We can read and learn-and we can advocate."
Brunner, who didn't seek reelection, leaves office next week. She will be replaced by Republican Jon Husted.