Even the Cleveland Plain Dealer has called them out on it:
...Voters First's veneer of nonpartisanship has been shredded. And to think that some of its most visible advocates are individuals and groups associated -- for years -- with calls for transparency in campaign finance. Letting themselves be used by the kind of political insiders they decry will make their high-minded talk harder to take seriously.
All one needs to do is take a look at the financing numbers to figure out that "Voters First" puts the interests of Ohioans behind those of labor unions and special interest groups. Of the $1,977,255.54 the group raised, 98.7% came from special interest groups. If you take out the two largest personal contributions (each $10,000), that number jumps to an astonishing 99.7%!
Even when looking at the quantity of contributions, 60.7% of them came from unions and liberal groups. Heck, over a quarter of them came from outside the state of Ohio. Perhaps "Voters First" meant voters outside the state?
But, it's gotta stop there, right? Having raised all their money from special interest groups, the "voters first" portion of their movement must have come in their grassroots signature effort...
Of the $1,457,683.93 in expenditures, "Voters First" paid out a total of $1,351,950 on canvassing operations, or by another name, paid petition circulators in order to gather 406,514 valid signatures. For those keeping track, that's 92.8% of their total expenditures and a whopping $3.33 per signature.
If just one third of those signatures were gathered by volunteers, as "Voters First" would like you to believe, that number jumps to $5 per signature. Regardless, "Voters First" paid through the nose to gather their signatures, with apparently no volunteer effort to speak of--not exactly a grassroots effort.
And that's just the numbers. The actual details of the proposal are garnering criticism right and left, including the argument that the entire proposal violates a major tenet of the U.S. Constitution:
By directly involving the judicial branch of our Ohio government in the most political of activities, that is, redistricting, the proposed amendment attacks a most fundamental of constitutional safeguards, the separation of powers. Therefore, the OSBA opposes this proposal.Not only is "Voters First" putting union money ahead of Ohioans, it's proposing a redistricting plan that puts liberal interests ahead of the integrity of the Constitution. All of this while a bi-partisan legislative task force examines ways to improve the redistricting process and a constitutional modernization committee is taking a look at the process as well.
Both of these are truly bi-partisan efforts, unlike the liberal-backed "Voters First." Ohio needs real reform, not partisan efforts funded by special interest groups aimed at violating the principles of our Constitution.
But don't think that will stop "Voters First" from spending millions to dupe Ohioans into supporting this disastrous proposal, modeled after the California system that's seen its budget triple in only a couple years. No, their union supporters will simply take money from hard-working middle-class Ohioans to fund their campaign of deception.
Which begs the question: if this proposal truly puts "Voters First," then why does the campaign have to rely on taking money from union members, rather than relying on voluntary contributions?
Of course, they also wouldn't have to rely on over $1.3 million in paid circulators if real people actually supported them.
Cross-posted at GOHP Blog.