Goals

  • a. Timeline/Vision Statement: To develop a searchable database allowing all of us to make informed decisions and have eyes on what is happening. Full disclosure with a sustainable development approach.
  • b. Benchmarks/Measurements: There are already conversations about with the State allowing the County to post campaign finance reports electronically. collect financial records for the County.
  • c. Short-term action steps

Where are we now?

  • 
Pat McDonald: Deputy Director, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
  • Dale Miller: Cuyahoga County Council Member, District 2 and former State Senator
  • Catherine Turcer: Director, Ohio Citizen Action’s Money in Politics Project and Transition Advisory Group member for finance reform

Transition Advisory Group (TAG) Suggestions
Electronic Campaign Finance Reporting

  • Need an open, searchable database (Something that allows people to drill down to a neighborhood level/Need to start working with IT from the very start)Will allow citizens to see who is making donations and where expenditures are going
  • Will allow people to keep an eye on who is influencing decisions.
  • Need to build a database in-house than working from the state system (Have to build something that can be built upon and be flexible)

Lobbyist Registration-DONE!

  • This was included in the far-reaching ethics law that regulates the conduct of employees, contractors, lobbyists and appointees to boards and commissions.
  • There is still some work that needs to be done-limiting meals, etc.
  • Lobbyists must register with the Inspector General and are forbidden from giving anything of value to employees, or from making campaign contributions.
  • This goes even further than the TAG suggestions

Campaign Contribution limits

  • Proposed limits by County Council based Based on state rules limits. The proposed limits are much higher than TAG recommendations (County Council Districts bigger than State Leg. Districts / There needs to be substantial public process-want council meetings not televised committee meetings / Also needs to be an ethical component-not able to give in the name of another)
  • The most competitive Council races cost ~$1,000 are costly
  • Would like to get it included in the County Charter

Cuyahoga County Clean Elections

  • Determined by council to be cost-prohibitive to tax payers
  • This would have to be voluntary
  • Even though this was dismissed as a non-option (due to cost) it should still be considered.

UPDATES: Contribution Limit Recommendations

  • Dave Greenspan, District One sponsored an ordinance suggesting the county mirror the state limitations: $12,000 limits on for individuals and PACs
  • The TAG suggested: $750 limits on council positions and $1,000 for executive and prosecutor

UPDATES: Electronic Campaign Finance Reporting

  • What are the limitations?
  • Call to action. It was suggested that submitted reports by candidates be placed on line immediately by the County rather than waiting until all amended reports are submitted

UPDATES: Citizen Experts

  • What should the process for determining limitations be?-Who should decide and how?
  • How much access do we want/need in order to make informed decisions?

3 Main Takeaways

  • It is important that people are given the opportunity to connect the dots. The database needs to be searchable and have the ability to cross-reference campaign contributions with expenditures.
  • How big do we want county to be and where do we want other entities to fit in (public boards, etc.)?
  • We need to make sure that the electronic reporting system is done right from the beginning-that includes making sure it is flexible and can support modifications/updates and that there are adequate resources dedicated to the project.

Next Steps

  • Things are pretty much already in-process
  • Several of the issue areas identified by the TAG, including electronic filing, lobbyist registration and contribution limits, either have already been addressed or are currently in the process of being addressed by County Council.
  • May be helpful to have something written into the county charter – could be part of the Charter Review process, as opposed to addressing provisions through ordinances (Needs to be strong public dialogue about this)
  • Become engaged in Council discussions on areas identified in TAG report. Council seems supportive of electronic filing in principle and has already incorporated many of the lobbyist registration provisions in their ethics ordinance. The current Council proposal on campaign limits, however, deviates substantially from the TAG report. Moreover, there does not seem to be interest in the public financing provision. Thus, if citizens desire to see the later 2 provisions enacted as proposed in the TAG report, there will need to be substantial advocacy.
 

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