Cleveland City Council Passes New Campaign Disclosure Rules

A rally supporting an increase of the minimum wage in Cleveland to $15 an hour. The petition campaign was resisted by most Cleveland councilmembers and eventually blocked by the state. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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Cleveland City Council has passed a rule requiring campaign finance disclosure by groups seeking to place local laws on the ballot.

The legislation requires disclosure of funding sources for any petition-driven referendum campaigns and how much was spent to gather signatures. Ohio has the same law in place, but it doesn’t cover charter municipalities like Cleveland.

During Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, Councilman Mike Polensek raised concerns about other groups getting involved in Cleveland politics – such as independent expenditures only committees, commonly known as Super PACs.

In this year’s mayoral campaign, a Super PAC called Cleveland Forward ran advertisements against challenger Zack Reed late in the race.

Polensek said council should widen its discussion to include groups like Cleveland Forward.

“The time might come where one of you might run afoul of the people with the big checkbooks and then they might target you and they don’t have to disclose where the money came from," said Polensek during Monday's meeting. "Not right. Not right.”

Cleveland Forward does have to disclose its donors to the Federal Election Commission. Disclosures are due at the end of January, none were required before Election Day.

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