December 16, 2004

Action Memo from Amy Fay Kaplan!

In this email:

AcTiOn aLeRt 1: Board of Elections Public Hearing

AcTiOn aLeRt 2: Contacting Voters Whose Provisional Ballots did Not Count

AcTiOn aLeRt 3: Oppose Ohio House Bill (HB) 1 / Ohio Senate Bill (SB) 1

please reply to:


AcTiOn aLeRt 1: Board of Elections Public Hearing

Thursday, Dec 16, 2004*** TONIGHT

6:00 pm

Franklin County Memorial Hall (same building as Board of Elections)

280 East Broad, Columbus

In their continuing effort to meet the changing needs of democracy, the Franklin
County BOE will hold a public hearing to receive input from Franklin County
voters on their experiences, both good and bad, during the Nov 2 General
Election cycle. Spread the word. We want to have a presence there to show that
not everyone is satisfied with the local administration of this election.


AcTiOn aLeRt 2: Contacting Voters Whose Provisional Ballots did Not Count

The BOE posted a list on their website with the name and address of every voter
in the county who voted provisionally. The names are grouped by category (Wrong
Precinct- No Vote; Insufficient ID- No Vote; Not Registered- No Vote; Pollworker
Mistake- Vote). Some of us will be part of a campaign to contact voters whose
votes were discarded to make sure they know. This will mean looking them up in
the phone book and making phone calls, probably. We can start a new org: the
Columbus League of Uncounted Voters! There?s a constituency to organize! Let me
know if you want in on that.


AcTiOn aLeRt 3: Oppose Ohio House Bill (HB) 1 / Ohio Senate Bill (SB) 1

Last week, the Governor of Ohio called the state legislature into special
session for the express purpose of passing ?campaign finance reform?
legislation. The bill has been reintroduced as HB 1 and SB 1.
In hearings before the House State Government Committee and the Senate Rules
Committee, citizens continue to express outrage over portions of the bill,
primarily the quadrupling of contribution caps from $2,500 that individuals may
currently give to candidates, to $10,000. There are also First Amendment
concerns that raise questions about the constitutionality of the bill?s
electioneering communications sections.

The House Committee has already referred the bill to the full House, and they
are hoping to send a bill to the Governor by the end of this week. Immediate
action is needed. Contact your state representative and your state senator
right away and tell them to vote against the campaign finance bill.

If you do not know your representative or her/his phone number or e-mail, visit Click on ?Your Representatives? and search by
zip code or district number.

by Gary Houser

In an unbelievably blatant move to serve the interests of wealthy individuals
and corporations in Ohio, Gov. Taft has called for a special session of the
state legislature. In a classic example of "doublespeak", Taft and the
Republican leadership are using the false pretense of "campaign finance reform"
to mask one of the biggest giveaways of political power in Ohio history. If
rammed through, their bill would completely undermine the democratic ideals of
this state and hand essential control over the political system to these
wealthy interests.

A special session has not been called since 1976. The purpose of such sessions
is to address an emergency situation. Instead of addressing an emergency, Gov.
Taft is creating one.

Apparently, the notion of campaign finance reform held by Taft and Republican
leaders is to do away with it. Rather than reduce the influence of money over
elections, this proposed bill (HB/SB 1) drastically increases it by quadrupling
the amount of money that can be given to candidates from $2500 to $10,000. Even
more outrageously, another section would effectively dismantle a nearly 100
year-old law aimed at preventing corporations from using their vast commercial
treasuries to overwhelm the electoral

While some Ohio Democrats are rightly opposing the quadrupling of spending
limits, they appear to be missing the most insidious and dangerous aspect of
this mockery of reform. Because of a loophole large enough to drive a Mack
truck through, there would be NO LIMIT WHATSOEVER on the amount of money
corporations could spend on what are called "electioneering" ads.

Corporations could advocate for or against candidates and ballot measures to the
tune of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS if they so choose. The $10,000 figure pales next to
the amounts that could be spent on these ads. In order to not be counted as a
direct contribution, these ads would focus on the issues related to a candidate
or ballot measure and simply avoid explicit use of the words "vote for" or "vote
against." By pursuing this end run, they could batter or praise as much as they

For two reasons, it would appear that the timing of this move is no accident.
Ohio's perenially key role in presidential elections was highlighted even
further this year. In the wake of four more years of a president closely
aligned with corporate interests, this is a stunningly transparent move to
consolidate corporate control over this key swing state. Secondly, this attempt
at a power grab has been planned to occur at precisely the time when the
resources of many Democratic Party and progressive groups are tied up
with the re-count issue.

The 'commercial treasuries of corporations' refers to the proceeds from the sale
of corporate products. When a customer buys a product, he or she is not giving
that corporation permission to influence the outcome of an election with that
money. It would be unethical for a corporation to use this money in such a way.
Yet this is precisely what would be allowed by HB 1/SB 1.

Some perspective is needed regarding the magnitude of the changes being
promoted. A hundred years ago, our ancestors in Ohio had compelling reasons to
fight hard to achieve citizen controls over corporations. For decades,
legislation favoring commercial interests was being routinely passed as a
"payback" for campaign contributions. The preamble of the 1908 law stated that
its purpose was "to prevent the corruption of elections and political parties
by corporations." This law to safeguard democracy is a great legacy that these
citizens left for us. The fate of that legacy is now in our hands.

At a time when polls consistently reveal a serious concern about big money and
politics, non-profit public interest groups and the small donation levels of
working class people would not be able to compete with the flood of wealthy
money that would be released. The strategy of proponents is to rush this bill
through a special session before the public even has a chance to recognize the
enormity of what is happening.

The importance of stopping this "blitzkrieg" disguised as campaign finance
reform cannot be overstated. All who support a democratic process are strongly
urged to immediately contact their representatives and senators and speak out
against this bald-faced power grab by corporate interests in our state. We must
not allow the brave efforts and protective legacy of those Ohio citizens who
stood up to corporate power 100 years ago to be squandered.

(-Gary Houser has been involved in efforts to use campaign finance reform to
prevent corporate money from dominating the political process, and co-authored
the first ballot initiative in the country (Arcata, Calif.) to assert local
democratic control over corporate activities that impact the community. He now
lives in SE Ohio.)

For updates on the recount- (Franklin County recount began and
finished on Tues 12/14. It continues throughout the state this week)

For updates on the hearings with the US House Judiciary Committee-





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