Cracking Down on Political Cronyism in Cuyahoga County
The Plain Dealer editorial board is supporting Minority Leader Batchelder’s campaign contribution legislation:
Federal employees have the Hatch Act prohibiting most from using their offices for political purposes. State employees in Ohio are subject to Gov. Ted Strickland’s executive order clamping limits on gifts.
It’s about time clear ethical standards were set for those who work for Ohio’s 88 county governments as well. The need is acute, given the degree of cronyism among certain Cuyahoga County officeholders.
House Minority leader William Batchelder plans to introduce a bill as early as this week that would plug the loophole in campaign finance law in Ohio that allows county officials to solicit political contributions from their own subordinates. The bill also would put the clamps on employees eager to curry favor with political bosses by filling their campaign coffers. Those are hardly onerous restrictions.
I need to learn more about this legislation, but I’m always skeptical about government limiting campaign contributions, as money should be treated like speech. The US Supreme Court did uphold the Hatch Act as constitutional in 1973, but was since watered down by the Federal Employees Political Activities Act of 1993, which allowed those employees to run in nonpartisan elections, participate in voter-registration drives, donate to political organizations, and campaign for candidates in partisan elections.
I would contend that, in today’s world of McCain-Feingold and 527s/501c4s, since Federal employees are only prohibited from donating directly to candidates, all that was eliminated was transparency.
Democrats in Cuyahoga County were corrupt long before the money showed up. And The Plain Dealer knows this, but the newspaper has long shown itself to tolerate a certain level of corruption, as a vast majority of their subscribers do not care.
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