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Columbus Council Looks To Restart Campaign Finance Discussion At Public Hearing

Columbus City Hall
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Columbus residents weighed in Thursday night on a campaign finance measure tabled amid public criticism at the end of last year.

The measure would institute new transparency provisions for contributors and political advertisements, as well as tax rebates to encourage small donations. Those ideas are pretty popular, but critics like Nicole Butler from Yes We Can Columbus are concerned about the contribution limit. She says the nearly $13,000 ceiling, which mirrors state limits, is too high.

“I don’t think that there’s any logic to using the state limit for Columbus,” she says. “Columbus isn’t a state, it’s a city.  It’s much smaller than the entire state of Ohio and most of the statewide district that are regulated by the statewide limit.”

She also criticizes the city for using an annual rather than election-based timeframe as state law does.

"I think using an annual limit kind of camouflages how much would actually be allowed to flow into local elections," Butler says.

Councilmember Michael Stinziano is still hoping to get campaign finance rules in place for this year's election, but he says they're running out of time.

"I think that is pressing,” he says, “and it has been a shared a goal with my colleagues and the mayor's administration that we have something in place for this year's municipal elections."

To do that, he says, council members will have to pass the measure in the next few weeks.