Columbus city officials have unveiled a campaign finance proposal they say will improve transparency.
It would limit annual individual and group contributions to just under 13 thousand dollars and require anyone running election ads to immediately disclose who funded them. Mayor Andy Ginther says the city wants to reduce the amount of dark money in local elections.
That dollar amount is much higher than in many other cities. Cleveland for example caps donations at 5 thousand for individuals and 75 hundred for groups. The plan also requires anyone running ads to immediately disclose their expenditures and debt. It requires audits of campaign-finance filings to assure compliance, and creates a system to report and investigate violations. But government watchdog groups and organizations working for stronger local limits are critical. Common Cause Ohio says the city's cap does not encourage the elimination of a quid pro quo system. The progressive Democratic group Yes We Can, which has unsuccessfully run candidates for City Council, says the cap is too high compared to other cities, and it is developing its own proposal with a lower cap. And the group Everyday People for Positive Change says the cap is too high, which does nothing to make local elections more fair. A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for this coming Tuesday at City Hall. City Council is expected to approve the plan on December 10.