Corporations have traditionally been prohibited from participating in political activity except in limited and highly regulated circumstances. However, recent changes to Ohio campaign finance laws have created new regulations, and new opportunities, for corporate participation in the elections process. Corporations also need to be aware that certain political contributions by its owners, as individuals, can also affect the corporation's ability to do business with the government.

Ohio Pay-to-Play Laws

2008 Campaign Finance Reporting

Campaign finance reporting requirements can be a challenge to maneuver without some guidance. Both the Federal Election Commission and the Ohio Secretary of State strictly enforce requirements for timely and accurate filing of campaign finance reports. Fortunately, both agencies also provide readily-available resources to help PAC treasurers comply with their obligations under state or federal law. Below please find links to helpful information on the subject of campaign finance reporting compliance and filing deadline dates.

FEC Guide to Campaign Finance Reporting for 2008

2008 Ohio Campaign Finance Reporting Calendar

News

Ohio Elections Commission Increases Penalties for Failure to File Campaign Finance Reports

October 2007

The Ohio Elections Commission recently voted to increase fines and penalties for candidate and political action committees that violate Ohio's campaign finance filing laws.

IRS Revenue Ruling Reminds Charities of Prohibition on Election Activity

October 2007

Bulletin on IRS revenue ruling reminding 501(c)(3) organizations of the prohibition on partisan activity by charitable organizations

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds "Issue Advocacy" Campaign Advertising

June 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited ruling in the F.E.C. v. Wisconsin Right to Life campaign finance litigation. The Court’s 5-4 decision upholds the airing of “electioneering communications” by independent, grassroots organizations 30 days prior to federal primaries and within 60 days of general elections.

Internal Controls for Political Committee Treasurers

May 2007

Bulletin on the issuance by the Federal Elections Committee of two Statements of Policy to federal political committees establishing internal controls and suggesting self-reporting mechanisms when errors are found.

Ohio Election Law and Campaign Finance Update

May 2007

Spring 2007 update of Ohio voter identification requirements and of late 2006 changes in Ohio campaign finance laws.

Elections Commissions Step Up Enforcement of 527s

February 2007

Both the Ohio Elections Commission and the Federal Elections Commission are taking steps to regulate 527 organizations engaging in political messaging.

Federal Elections Commission Announces Updated Contribution Limits

On January 23, 2007, the Federal Elections Commission announced revised contribution limits which have been indexed for inflation. New limits are effective for 2007-2008 federal elections and can be found at on the FEC website. 

Supreme Court to Revisit Campaign Finance Law and Restrictions on Independent Expenditures

On January 19, 2007, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a landmark case involving the intersection between First Amendment rights and campaign finance restrictions. 

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Ohio Campaign Finance

The Check is Not Only Thing You Have to Sign: Filing Requirements for Corporate Contributors to Ballot Issue Campaigns

April 2007

Discussion of expenditure reporting requirements for corporations and labor organizations that support or oppose ballot issues.

Corporate Contributions to Ohio State and County Political Parties

August 2006

Ohio law now allows a corporation or labor union to use its resources to assist a political party with certain non-partisan activities. Read about Levin Funds, Restricted Accounts and building funds.

Ohio Campaign Finance Legislation

Information on Ohio H.B. 1, effective March 31, 2005, reforming Ohio's campaign finance laws, and on H.B. 694, enacting sweeping changes to Ohio’s pay-to-play laws.

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Political Action Committees

Should We Form A Political Action Committee? Participation in Ohio’s Political Environment

May 2006

Discussion on becoming involved in the political process through formation of a political action committee (PAC) under Ohio law.

Contribution "Conduit" Must Register as Ohio PAC

Discussion of a March 30, 2006 Ohio Elections Commission opinion that an on-line "conduit" for political contributions must register with the Ohio Secretary of State as a political action committee in order to participate in Ohio elections.

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Corporate Involvement in Political Activity

In general, corporations may not use corporate resources for partisan political purposes. However, Ohio law contains several notable, but narrow, exceptions.

Ohio Campaign Finance Resource Guide for Corporations and Political Action Committees Available. Bricker & Eckler has prepared a comprehensive guide for corporations and PACs detailing compliance with H.B. 1 and how to establish, administer and operate a corporate-sponsored PAC. The guide also discusses permissible political activity by corporations, LLCs and sole-proprietorships that wish to engage in both partisan and non-partisan activities. To request a free copy of the guide, e-mail Maria Armstrong at marmstrong@bricker.com

Corporate Gifts To Ohio Political Parties - August 2006

Ohio law now allows a corporation or labor union to use its resources to assist a political party with certain non-partisan activities. Read about Levin Funds, Restricted Accounts and building funds.

Permissible Use of Corporate Funds in Ohio For Electioneering Communications

August 2006

Another new provision of Ohio law, and another vehicle for corporate involvement in the political arena, is found in the Ohio’s electioneering communications provisions.