Petition Presented at City Hall Supporting Campaign Finance Reform
The Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government is taking to City Hall this afternoon to present approximately 23,000 signatures that support a petition to overhaul campaign finance reform laws for local elections.
“Many of us who led the grassroots opposition to Issues 50 and 51 have been complaining loudly that our elected officials are not listening to our voices or being responsive to our concerns,” said Jon Beard, President and CEO of the Columbus Compact Corporation. “The fact that 100% of our city council supported Issues 50 and 51, while 69% of the voters rejected Issue 50 means our elected officials are wildly out of touch with their constituents. While this is the most highly-visible instance, we deal with this same phenomenon on a daily basis, and the problem is getting worse year by year.”
The Coalition is taking issue with the amount of money raised by incumbent politicians and Democrat-led campaigns when compared to new office challengers and Republican or Independent initiatives. According to the Coalition, campaign finance reports revealed that City Council challengers Brian Bainbridge and Greg Lawson raised $1,434.99 and $2,826.43 respectively. Incumbent Priscilla Tyson raised $22,010.35 with an additional $58,901.58 of in-kind contributions from Friends of Ginther. Incumbents A. Troy Miller and Eileen Paley also received $58,751.58 each from Friends of Ginther.
“Some candidates are able to buy television ad time to reach our citywide voting area, and others are not,” said Beard. “Even incumbents must rely on large financial contributions from the Council President, and we believe that feeds skepticism about council member independence, and that skepticism alone is unhealthy for democracy.”
Meanwhile, Columbus City School Levy Issues 50 and 51 were defeated at the ballot box on Tuesday despite a financial campaign backing totaling over 2 million dollars. The school levy opposition released a statement on Tuesday night that highlighted the fact that they defeated the levy with a budget of less than $4,000 raised.
The petition is expected to be reviewed today by City Clerk Angie Blevins and passed along to the Franklin County Board of Elections for signature validation. If enough signatures are collected, the ordinance would be scheduled for a vote by City Council. If rejected by City Council, the ordinance would be placed on the next election ballot for a public vote.
More information can be found online at www.columbuscoalition.info.