A Snapshot of Ohio-based 501(c) Electioneering Groups Involved with Judicial Elections

A group called Citizens for a Strong Ohio, backed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, spent $4.4 million on ads meant to influence judicial elections in 2000. The group was so secretive about donors’ identities that they were not revealed until 2005, when a court ordered the organization to disclose contributions from 2000.[1][See Table 1]

The Ohio Chamber created another entity, Partnership for Ohio’s Future, to do its electioneering work in 2006.[2] But a new law is in effect in Ohio, requiring disclosure of the contributors that   fund electioneering communications by independent groups.[3]Contributors to the “Partnership” are listed below. [See Table 2]

A survey of the donors makes it clear why Chamber groups try to shield contributors’ identities from the public. In contrast to the upbeat names given to front groups – which are meant to convey that the groups enjoy a groundswell of support from regular citizens – the supporters are in fact a small number of companies and trade associations with a strong self-interest in limiting    corporate liability in the courts.

For example, the majority of contributors in 2006 to the “Partnership” are insurance companies and the top two contributors are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Table 1: Contributors Who Gave $50,000 or More
to Citizens for a Strong Ohio in 2000

Contributor

Amount

American Insurance Assoc.

$135,000

Ohio Chamber of Commerce*

$100,000

AK Steel Corp.

$100,000

Ohio Farmers Insurance

$100,000

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

$100,000

State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance

$100,000

WestAd Inc.

$100,000

Honda of America Mfg, Inc.

$100,000

Procter & Gamble

$100,000

Fifth Third Bank

$100,000

MBNA

$100,000

Grange Insurance Companies

$95,000

Schiff, Jr., John J.

$87,000

American Payroll Services

$75,000

State Auto Insurance

$50,000

Mead

$50,000

Motorists Insurance Companies

$50,000

Kokosing Construction Company

$50,000

Longaberger Company

$50,000

Timken

$50,000

Cinergy Corp.

$50,000

Farmers Insurance Group of Companies

$50,000

Meyerson, R.F.

$50,000

Federal Insurance Company

$50,000

Travelers Property Casualty

$50,000

Medical Mutual of Ohio

$50,000

Owens-Illinois

$50,000

Cooper Tire and Rubber Company

$50,000

Hunting National Bank

$50,000

Source: “Resnick Campaign Donor List Revealed,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 28, 2005

* Some news reports said the Ohio Chamber of Commerce gave $200,000

Table 2: Known Contributors to Partnership for Ohio’s Future in 2006

Donor

Amount

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

$634,000

Ohio Chamber of Commerce

$165,000

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

$75,000

American Insurance Association

$50,000

State Auto Mutual Insurance Co.

$50,000

Motorists Mutual Insurance Co.

$35,000

Ohio National Life Insurance Co.

$30,000

Duke Energy

$25,000

Ohio Farmers Insurance Co.

$25,000

St. Paul Travelers

$25,000

State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co.

$25,000

Western and Southern Life Insurance

$25,000

PPG Industries Inc.

$20,000

Athem Blue Cross Blue Shield

$15,000

Grange Insurance Companies

$15,000

Timken Co.

$15,000

CNA

$10,000

Ohio Casualty Group

$10,000

Ohio Society of Certified Public  Accountants

$10,000

USAA Insurance Co.

$10,000

Ace American Insurance Co.

$5,000

Ohio Oil and Gas Association

$5,000

Ohio Contractors Association

$2,500

Source: Ohio Secretary of State




[1]“Resnick Campaign Donor List Revealed,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 28, 2005.

[2] Partnership for Ohio’s Future Web site   (available at www.ohiochamber.org).

[3]Maria Armstrong and Sean Mentel, “Campaign Finance Legislation: Am. Sub. H.B. 1,” Bricker & Eckler LLP, January 2005.

PCF URL: 
/congress/special_intr/articles.cfm?ID=15877