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The 996 People and Companies Who Support Ohio's Pro-Issue 2 Campaign

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Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Romel / Flickr

As we reported earlier, nearly half of the money raised by the campaign working to repeal collective bargaining law Senate Bill 5 came from teacher or faculty unions.

But who's putting up the money for the other side, the campaign urging voters to vote "yes" on Issue 2, as the SB 5 ballot question is called?

The answer isn't clear.

Building a Better Ohio, the group campaigning to keep SB 5, reported raising $8 million in the most recent campaign finance reporting period. The campaign released a list of the names of its donors, but didn't include other information typically required by campaign finance laws, including pesky details like contributors' employers, addresses, or, oh, amounts given. They just released a list of 996 names.

This is all legal: The pro-SB 5 campaign is structured as a 501c(4) parent organization with an associated state campaign committee. The parent organization is the major source of funding for the state campaign committee. And the group doesn’t have to publicly report anything about donations to the parent organization -- even reporting the names of donors was above and beyond. But, according to a prepared statement, the campaign provided the names "in the interest of transparency."

We took a look through the list of 996 names to see what we could learn, and what we couldn't.

Who's supporting the pro-Issue 2 campaign?

  • There are few education-related donors, especially in comparison to the donors to the anti-Issue 2 campaign.  Pro-Issue 2 corporate donors with some tie to education include JTM Provisions, a Harrison, Ohio-based supplier of food to schools and other places, and Altair Learning Management, which provides services to Ohio's largest e-school, the Electronic Classroom of Tommorow.
  • A wide range of other corporate donors back the campaign. Companies and groups that donated to the campaign include a Cincinnati wine store, a company that provides dental services to Ohio prisons, engineering and construction companies, a drug-store chain, and the state's car dealers association.
  • Some 950 individual donors (and 46 companies or organizations) gave to the pro-Issue 2 campaign. Individual donors include State Sen. Shannon Jones, who sponsored SB 5. Jones wrote a $50 check to the campaign -- from her personal account -- her deputy campaign treasurer said.  The Columbus Dispatch reports that Victor Voinovich, brother of former Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich, and Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications Inc., parent company of The Toledo Blade, also donated.
  • Want to see for yourself? Check out the list of Building a Better Ohio donors below and see if there are any others of note. (Or see the list here.):

[spreadsheet key="0Ars3eyO0VAaYdGhmZjVWTTBISG1pdC1fQzZWa1pUaUE" source="Building a Better Ohio" sheet=0 filter=1 paginate=1 sortable=1]


Questions the pro-Issue 2 contributors list doesn't answer:

  • Who are the big financial backers of the campaign? Because the list released by the pro-Issue 2 Building a Better Ohio campaign doesn't include contribution amounts, we can't tell who gave thousands (or more) and who gave $5.
  • Who exactly are these people and corporations supporting the campaign? The list released by the pro-Issue 2 campaign doesn't include any identifying information about donors. For example, from the list alone we can't tell which one of the 41 Anthony Schwabs listed in the online white pages donated to Building a Better Ohio.
  • Where are donors based? The campaign's donor list doesn't include addresses. Short of searching for each donor and confirming his or her address one-by-one, it's hard to tell if the money supporting the pro-Issue 2 campaign is coming from out of state or from within Ohio. (Other groups, including Virginia-based Alliance for America’s Future are running separate campaigns in support of Issue 2.)