Ohio lawmakers want to shine a light on dark money after public corruption probes

Then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder walks out of U.S. District Court in July after federal charges that he participated in a racketeering conspiracy.

In the wake of the largest public corruption case in Ohio history, lawmakers on the right and left are pushing bills that call for more transparency for dark money politics.

Republicans Diane Grendell of Chesterland and Mark Fraizer of Newark introduced House Bill 13, which they call the Light of Day Bill. The bill, which has had two hearings in the House Government Oversight Committee, would require 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations to disclose political spending and donors.

Such organizations currently do not have to disclose their financial backers and only reveal limited information on their expenditures on IRS forms that are filed annually. For that reason, 501(c)4s are often called dark money groups.

Democrats Allison Russo of Upper Arlington and Bride Rose Sweeney of Cleveland on Tuesday announced the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, which would mandate disclosure of donations to 501(c)4s, require more disclosure of true owners of certain nonprofits and block foreign companies from political spending via American subsidiaries.

House Bill 306 was introduced Tuesday and is awaiting hearings.

Two former House speakers are under investigation by the FBI. Republican Cliff Rosenberger stepped down three years ago, and a month later his home and storage unit were searched by FBI agents. He has not been charged with a crime and has said he did nothing wrong. 

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