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Ohio Ethics Commission seeks harsher penalties for unlawful gifts to lawmakers

dollar bills money
Mark Lennihan

The Ohio Ethics Commission is asking state lawmakers to beef up penalties for people convicted of illegally giving money or gifts to legislators or public agency leaders.

The allowable amount a donor can give a lawmaker or other leader is between $75 to $500 per year depending on who is getting the gift and how it is given. Exceeding that amount is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine. But Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Mick said he’s asking lawmakers to increase that penalty.

“We are asking the General Assembly to enhance that to include barring folks, prohibiting them from having public contracts for five years and also giving the courts the authority to order fines that would be equal to the amount of any unlawful payments that were made,” Mick said.

To be clear, this doesn’t increase penalties for lawmakers who accept unlawful gifts – only donors who give them.

Read more: Ohio's current laws for gifts.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.