Ohio law regulate my campaign contributions?
A: Yes. Ohio law regulates the amount of
money you can give in certain races, primarily in state legislative and
statewide campaigns. The law also requires the candidate to report
contributions. The goal is transparency, which applies to both the candidate
and the contributor.
must be disclosed?
A: Candidates and their campaign committees must
disclose the campaign contributions they receive. This usually includes the
amount of money received as well as the contributor’s name and address. The value of an “in kind” donation of
something other than money must also be disclosed.
I remain anonymous?
A: No. Neither a candidate, nor the
committee supporting the candidate, is allowed to accept anonymous donations. If,
for example, a candidate’s committee receives an anonymous donation and does
not know the contributor’s identity, the committee must make a reasonable
attempt to determine who the donor is. The committee or candidate must disclose
the donor’s identity if it is discovered, and must document the steps taken to
identify the unknown contributor.
It’s my money. Can’t I give as much
as I want?
Ohio limits contribution amounts to campaigns for statewide offices or
legislative seats. Ohio’s Revised Code sets the amounts, but allows the Ohio
Secretary of State to adjust those for inflation in odd-numbered years. The
Secretary of State currently caps individual donations in these amounts:
$12,155.52 to a candidate’s campaign in
the same election cycle, including primary and general elections;
$18,233.28 to a legislative candidate’s
election fund in the same calendar year;
$12,155.52 to the county party’s fund
for the election of political candidates
(“county party statewide fund”) in the county where you live;
$0 to any county party’s statewide
candidate fund in counties where you do not live;
$36,466.56 per calendar year to a state
party’s fund for the election of political candidates (“state party’s statewide
candidate fund”) in a county where you live.*
$12,155.52 to the same the political
action committee in a calendar year.
$3,600 to a candidate for Supreme Court
of Ohio justice or chief justice per election period, if the candidate has a
contested primary election. If the candidate does not face a primary election opponent,
the maximum is $3,600.
the Ohio Secretary of State’s guide to current contribution limits at
*State and county political parties
operate independently; each may maintain funds specifically designated for
electing candidates to statewide office.
my child give?
law prohibits children under age seven from contributing, but children age
seven or older may contribute within the limits described above. Also, unlike
some other states, there is no statute limiting the total amount a family can
Q: Can my
A: It depends on the type of company. Partnerships, limited liability companies and
other unincorporated business entities are allowed to donate to candidates, but
Ohio law restricts corporations from donating directly to a candidate’s
campaign committee or a political party.
However, restrictions that
previously applied in Ohio were affected by a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
called Citizens United. Now,
corporations (for profit and non-profit) and labor unions are allowed to donate
more freely to election campaigns. These organizations, as well as any
individual or group of individuals, are allowed to sponsor advertising—without
financial limits—that endorses candidates, as long as the entity does not
directly contribute to, or coordinate with, the candidate or the candidate’s
Q: Can I contribute freely to the local race
for dog warden?
A: Ohio law puts no restrictions on local or
county races, but local governments are allowed to create their own regulations
about campaign contributions, and some have done so.
Q: Are candidates
restricted in how they use their campaign funds?
A: Yes. Candidates must use their funds for
ordinary, necessary and verifiable expenses. This means that candidates may not
use their campaign funds for business or for clearly personal needs. However,
these rules are broad and allow for spending that might not seem like
campaigning. Candidates have been allowed to use their campaign funds for certain
meals, trips and even to pay fines related to campaign law violations.
about contributions to candidates for federal office?
A: Federal law applies to campaign spending
for candidates running for Congress and President. Contribution limits are set
in the following amounts:
$2,600 to a federal candidate or the
candidate’s campaign committee in each election period (primaries and general
elections are considered different election periods);
$2,600 per presidential election period;
$5,000 to a political action committee
(PAC) in the same calendar year;
$32,400 each calendar year to a
national party committee.
anyone contribute to federal candidates?
A: No. A citizen of another country is not
allowed to contribute to any U.S. candidate, unless that person is a permanent
resident of the United States. Additionally, anyone considered a government
contractor—even consultants—may not contribute to federal candidates. For more
information about federal campaign laws, visit www.fec.gov.
“Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the
Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Columbus attorney Paul
Aker. Articles appearing in
this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law.
Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged
to seek advice from an attorney.
Labels: campaign contributions, elections, political candidate, politicians