Testimony of Joe Motil, Columbus construction foreman and City Council candidate
This proposed campaign finance legislation is just another attempt to undermine the will of the people of Columbus who have been trying to introduce real democracy into city government for decades. And you all love to use comparisons only when it benefits your maintaining of political power. Whether it’s creating a true district-at-large city council as virtually every large city in America has, or comparing Columbus with our Peer Cities and how much they charge towards taxing their citizens to support the arts.
So now, you basically mirror the State of Ohio’s contribution limits that do absolutely nothing to create an even slightly level playing field when it comes to major party non-endorsed and independent type candidates who choose to run against endorsed, appointed incumbent City Council members and other offices. And to reference these proposals as “historic” is absurd. If you want to enact something historic then propose something other than a copy and paste of some else’s half-baked idea. We need campaign finance laws that are thought out, with good, honest intentions that truly address this underlying issue of a representative people’s government.
All this talk about the influence of dark money and keeping it out of municipal elections is a non-issue. Rarely is special interest dark money PAC’s used to influence most of our municipal elections. Has dark money ever been used against you in your campaign Mr. Hardin? Or you Councilman Stinziano? No, I don’t think so. And in terms of transparency, plenty of that can be found on the Board of Elections website and the unnecessary and redundant campaign finance reporting that the city of Columbus requires.
The proposed contribution limits will do nothing to lower the amount an incumbent candidate can raise. Law firms, developers, construction companies, architectural firms and others will merely start bleeding the officers and partners of their firms for the maximum contributions. And as everyone knows, contributions will be funneled into and through the Republican and Democratic county parties and into incumbent and endorsed candidate’s campaigns.
As far back as twenty-three years ago, City Council created a nine member task force to make suggestions on needed campaign reforms. They recommended a $1,000 per person limit for auditor, city attorney and council candidates. A $10,000 maximum carry over for municipal candidates other than the mayor which was set at $20,000. And candidates and their campaign committees would be prohibited from giving to other municipal candidates. And that would have been disastrous for some of you. And let’s add limits on in-kind contributions and allow the use of taxpayer paid CTV Columbus Government Television for candidates use.
CTV could also air the League of Women Voters and other public candidate forums allowing voters to be better educated and see who doesn’t show up for candidate events. This use of public media should be made available for municipal elections and other purposes and not just for City Hall propaganda. By adding these types of reforms you could then accurately boast of them being historic. And only then can the ‘For Sale’ sign at City Hall begin to disappear.