Monday, September 26, 2005
Ohio State Rep. Kevin DeWine's opposition to four reform initiatives on this fall's Ohio ballot is hardly surprising. DeWine was, after all, the man picked to guide through the Ohio House last year's HB 1, a smoke-filled room special session law which quadrupled the influence of wealthy interests over state government.
But DeWine's comments in a story by Jim Provance in the Toledo Blade are a little surprising, even considering DeWine's past efforts to grant his wealthy political benefactors greater influence over Ohio government.
A little background: one provision of Issue 3, the campaign finance initiative on this fall's ballot, allows small donor action committees (PACs that accept no more than $50 from any one contributor) to make contributions of up to $10,000 to state legislative candidates and of up to $20,000 to statewide candidates. This is more than individuals or other PAC can give -- under Issue 3, individuals are limited to $1,000 and $2,000 donations respectively to legislative and statewide candidates, while all non-small donor PACs can give up $500 and $1,000 respectively. (Under DeWine's HB 1, individuals can give up to $10,000 to a candidate per election cycle.)
Small donor action committees are allowed to contribute more because they represent more people, an idea very similar to that of "one person, one vote", a concept apparently abohorrent to Rep. DeWine: "Why is it OK to create an unlevel playing field by letting one particular group have a voice 10 times stronger than individual Ohioans or other special interests who want their voice heard on Capital Square?", he asks.
What? Is this guy serious? This is a state legislator asking why it's OK for ten voters to have more say in government than one rich voter. In reality, because small donor action committees can accept no more than $50 from any one contributor, it would take 200 donors to equal the influence of one rich person under the $10,000 limits in DeWine's HB 1.
In other words, in Kevin DeWine's world, it's an "unlevel playing field" when 200 Ohio voters have more say in an election outcome than 1 rich Ohio voter. While dressing his comments up in fake populist rhetoric, DeWine himself even recognizes that special interests are the main beneficiaries of his robber-barron ideology.
While it is arguably possible that DeWine doesn't understand the basic tenets of our system of government, it is much more likely that his words and actions are designed to further his own political career and the political wishlist of the handful of big donors which have bankrolled his political career.
If Issue 3 passes this fall, a rich person's ability to drown out the voices of the working middle class in Ohio politics will be greatly reduced. If DeWine and his money boys saturate the airwaves with misinformation and Issue 3 loses, Ohio voters may be able to look forward to many more DeWine-sponsored bills, including: tax breaks for rich folks who use foreign tax shelters, unsupervised state investment contracts for rich folks, a poll tax, and discounting a person's vote if his/her income doesn't allow them to make $10,000 campaign contributi- wait, he already did that one.
The reform initiatives on the ballot in Ohio this fall are:
-Issue 2: Allows Ohioans to vote with an absentee ballot up to 35 days before an election.
-Issue 3: Reduces the influence of big money on Ohio elections and government by rolling back the state's campaign finance limits to a level closer to the national average.
-Issue 4: Takes the job of drawing political districts away from politicians.
-Issue 5: Uses a bipartisan board to administer Ohio elections instead of an official representing one party.