Ohio senators want to change constitution to stop political dark money

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By J.D. Davidson
The Center Square 

Two Ohio senators want federal lawmakers to amend the U.S. Constitution to eliminate the idea that money equals free speech.

Senate Democratic Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, and Sen. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, want Senate Resolution 180 to push a federal move to eliminate what they call corporate personhood and end or limit dark political money.

“The Citizens United decision has allowed the wealthy and well-connected to have undue, outsized influence on our democracy,” Antonio said. “Our government was founded by the people for the people, and their voice must be listened to. It’s time for Ohio to join the call to end dark money and the culture of corruption.”

The resolution continues the ongoing effort by House and Senate Democrats to control or eliminate dark money contributions following the passage of House Bill 6, which turned out to be the largest political corruption scandal in state history.

As previously reported by The Center Square, FirstEnergy agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the wake of the scandal. It admitted conspiring with public officials, others and entities to pay millions of dollars to public officials in exchange for specific official action to help FirstEnergy.

FirstEnergy admitted to prosecutors it funneled millions of dollars through nonprofits and dark money groups to public officials for passage of the $1 billion nuclear bailout that led to the arrest, ouster, conviction and sentencing of former House Speaker Larry Householder.

Antonio and Smith said the federal constitutional amendment refers to the Citizens United decision that removed legal limits on corporate spending in elections. 

“The ongoing FirstEnergy bribery and money laundering scandal indicates the pressing need for this legislation,” Smith said. “This resolution seeks to remove the concentrated, corrupting influence of money from our elections and our politics. Just as litigants have the right to impartial justice, citizens should have a right to a senator who will weigh the interests of all constituents, not merely moneyed corporations.”

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