Auditor Yost Partners with Secretary Husted and Reps. McClain and Hill to Crack Down on Campaign Finance Law Violators.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Columbus - Public officials who knowingly use public funds for political purposes could now face criminal penalty with the introduction of House Bill 326. A press conference held today by Auditor of State Dave Yost, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Representative Jeff McClain (R- Upper Sandusky) and Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) outlined the need for such legislation.

Auditor Dave Yost

Auditor Yost Partners with Secretary Husted and Reps. McClain and Hill to Crack Down on Campaign Finance Law Violators.
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“Taxpayer money and politics do not mix,” Auditor Yost said. “Government managers who can’t tell the difference deserve a season pass to their local jail.”

“It crosses the line when people use public dollars to achieve political goals. Today I want to be clear in informing government officials at all levels that using public dollars to fund campaigns is a violation of the law,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said. “I appreciate that Auditor Yost and Representatives McClain and Hill are introducing legislation that will strengthen the enforcement of this important taxpayer protection.”

Sparking the legislation were findings issued in a recent audit of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA). In 2007 and 2008, TARTA illegally loaned $66,885 to Citizens for TARTA, the political action committee tasked with helping gather resources to fund TARTA levy campaigns. To make matters worse, TARTA’s director was also the deputy treasurer for Citizens for TARTA.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, Section 9.03, “no governing body of a political subdivision shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a levy or bond issue.” While this statute makes it illegal to use tax dollars for political purposes, currently there is no criminal penalty. House Bill 326, jointly sponsored by Representative McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) and Representative Hill (R-Zanesville), amends the Ohio Revised Code to institute a penalty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, a similar punishment to other violations of campaign finance laws.

“This bill closes a major loophole, while bringing consistency to the campaign financing laws.” Representative McClain stated. “Protecting Ohio’s taxpayers is a major concern and this bill will help ensure that tax dollars are not used for political gains.”

“Taxpayers expect that their tax dollars will be spent on essential public services, not on political campaigns,” Representative Hill stated. “This legislation looks out for the best interests of Ohioans by ensuring that public officials adhere to campaign finance laws in order to maintain public trust.”

The first hearing for House Bill 326 will be held by the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, September 21 at 9:00 a.m.


The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.


Carrie Bartunek
Press Secretary
(614) 728-7198