History

 

Before 1974 Ohio, like most of the nation, had almost no constraints on campaign contributions. Since 1908, corporations had been forbidden to contribute to candidates, because it was believed that their ability to provide larger amounts of money than ordinary citizens would skew the democratic process, giving more influence to moneyed businesses than to voters.

The fallout from the Watergate scandal in 1974 inspired Ohio, again like many other states, to enact the first rather limited restrictions of campaign contributions so there would not be secret money being used to influence elections.

Ohio scandals led to more serious contribution limits in 1995, but plenty of loopholes allowed money to flow rather freely. Reports were not generally available because they were filed on paper and were not easily accessible.

In 1999 electronic filing of campaign finance reports was finally generally required, making it easier to identify who was giving how much money to which candidates. For the first time, it was possible to get some idea of which economic interests were supporting which candidates, providing the potential to see if those interests were affecting government actions.

December 2004 saw the introduction and enactment of House Bill 1 in a special session of the General Assembly. This bill, enacted in just one week, just before Christmas, almost completely rewrote what is allowed in Ohio in campaign finance.