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Groups Want To Know Donors Behind Nuclear Bailout Ads, Flyers

Andy Chow

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Ohio are joining forces to call out the lack of transparency in the scathing campaign against the nuclear bailout referendum attempt.

A lot of money is pouring into the fight over HB6, which bails out the state's nuclear power plants, subsidizes coal plants, and rolls back pro-green energy policies.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is pushing to put a referendum of HB6 on next year's ballot, with petitioners gathering signatures all throughout the state.

But a pro-nuclear bailout group, Ohioans for Energy Security, is shelling out money to broadcast ads and mail out flyers that claim the referendum group has ties to the Chinese government. Ohioans for Energy Security, which has an agenda that closely aligns with FirstEnergy Solutions, claims that the Chinese government is trying to gain control of Ohio's energy grid.

Jen Miller with the Ohio League of Women voters calls the claims "egregious." All of the groups involved in the referendum fight, both for and against, are dark money organizations that have yet to disclose their donors.

Miller says, without campaign finance transparency, there's no accountability for the companies or individuals funding these efforts.

"They probably wouldn't make those kinds of statements if they were to be held accountable by their shareholders or by the public if we knew who they were," says Miller.

Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio says state lawmakers should pass a bill that requires timely disclosure of campaign finance records, noting that a bill with bipartisan support was introduced about ten years ago by current Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio). That bill, SB240, passed in the Republican-controlled Senate but failed to move in the Democrat-controlled House.

"We should not be in a time period where we receive something in the mail about elections but we don't actually understand what it's about," says Turcer.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts must collect 265,774 valid signatures from around the state before October 21 in order to put a referendum on the November 2020 ballot.