Issue 3 backers spend $15.3M

Reports provide campaign finance snapshot.

By Laura A. Bischoff
Columbus Bureau
and Lynn Hulsey

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COLUMBUS — The 10 investor groups pushing to legalize marijuana and grab a corner on the market put up $15.8 million and spent $15.3 million this year to get Issue 3 on the ballot and convince voters to say yes to it, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

The latest report filed with the Ohio secretary of state details fundraising and spending from mid-July to mid-October.

In just the last four months, ResponsibleOhio PAC, which is running the Yes on Issue 3 campaign, spent $5.8 million on television commercials and $2.5 million on mailings and paid The Strategy Network $2.3 million in management fees.

The Strategy Network is a Columbus-based petition circulating and political consulting company owned by ResponsibleOhio Executive Director Ian James and his husband. The Strategy Network is listed as making a $455,787 contribution to ResponsibleOhio PAC while the 10 investor groups chipped

in $11.9 million in the past four months.

Issue 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use by adults ages 21 and older, name 10 commercial growing sites, establish a state regulatory body and allow for limited home growing. Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, which is pushing a no vote on Issue 3, raised $712,585 and spent $366,226 over the past four months. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and its political arm contributed $600,000 of the total.

The fundraising for the two other statewide proposed constitutional amendments isn’t as robust.

The yes on Issue 1 campaign, which would change how Ohio draws its legislative political maps, spent $184,000 and raised $253,000. Payday lenders, beer and wine wholesalers, unions and businesses provided the bulk of that money. There is no organized opposition to Issue 1, which is backed by major political parties and good government groups.

Issue 2 would block Issue 3 and bar businesses from installing monopolies or special tax rates for themselves in the state constitution. Protect Our Constitution, which backs a yes vote on Issue 2, raised $50,000 with a single contribution from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. It spent less than $5,000 in the past four months.

Sinclair Community College levy

In Montgomery County the largest total contribution went to the Sinclair Community College levy campaign, according to pre-general election campaign finance reports filed Thursday with the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

The campaign for the 1-mill, 8-year additional property tax levy raised $247,220, more than half from Dayton’s two largest hospital networks.

Combining that with money brought forward from earlier fundraising, Citizens for Sinclair spent $452,532 and has on hand $263,524 going into the final leg of the campaign. The money was spent primarily on advertising buys for television, radio, print and direct mail.

“Those employers and individuals who have contributed certainly see this as an investment in the community,” said Madeline Iseli, vice president for advancement for Sinclair and campaign executive on loan from the college. “Sinclair is about helping them have the educated and trained employees that this community needs so that we can continue to grow the jobs for today and tomorrow.”

The new operating and capital improvement levy would pay to boost manufacturing and health programming, including building a new health sciences facility.

If approved by voters the new levy would be one of two used by the school for its Montgomery County programs and students. Sinclair’s other levy is for 3.2 mills and officials say the new levy would help offset revenue losses on that levy stemming from declines in property values in the county.

The largest contributor to the levy campaign was Premier Health, with $100,000, followed by Kettering Health Network, which contributed $30,000. Iseli said 40 to 50 percent of the college’s health sciences graduates are employed by those hospital systems.

“We have just been really strong partners for many many years,” said Peggy Mark, chief learning officer for Premier Health. “We get great graduates from Sinclair.”

Kettering Health Network Chief Executive Officer Fred Manchur said the company is grateful to Sinclair for educating so many of its employees and “education produces a strong local workforce.”

Other large contributors to the campaign included the Montgomery County Human Services Levy and the University of Dayton, both of which gave $10,000 each. Sinclair President Steven Johnson gave $5,000 and the levy attracted $3,000 in financial support from levy campaign consultant Burges & Burges Strategists of Euclid and $5,000 from The Ohlmann Group Inc., the Dayton marketing and advertising firm that does media buys for the levy.

The levy committee paid Burges and Burg-es $33,324 for services during the reporting period. Ohlmann was paid $332,871 for media buys.

Local races

The November election also includes multiple races for school boards, municipal offices and local levies.

In the Kettering school board race two incumbents have outraised former Kettering school Superintendent Jim Schoenlein, who resigned in 2014 after the board put him on leave over management issues. Jennifer Slanker Kane raised $3,673 and spent $988. Lori Simms Parks raised $1,050 and spent $664. Schoenlein raised $670 and spent nothing. Two seats are up for grabs.

In Kettering’s District 4 council race incumbent Bruce E. Duke raised $5,440 and spent $2,674. Duke gave himself $5,000 of the total. Pat Higgins raised and spent nothing but reported $3,059 in in-kind contributions from her husband and herself, mostly for printing and yard signs. A report by the third candidate in that race, Bryan

N. Suddith, was not listed on the board of elections website by press time.

Reports also were not posted in the other contested council race, the District 2 contest between incumbent Joseph D. Wanamaker and Michael

L. Barnett.

In the city of Dayton race for two commission seats incumbent Matt Joseph raised $18,567 and, combining that with money raised earlier, spent $19,668.

Businessman Chris Shaw raised $14,565 and spent $11,997 and minister Darryl Fairchild raised $11,644 and spent $9,838. A report was not filed by the deadline for Scott Sliver, said Jan Kelly, director of the board of elections.

Candidates must file if they raise or spend more than $1,000 during the reporting period.

In the Dayton school board race four people are vying for three seats. Incumbent Sheila Taylor raised $5,300 and spent $1,240. Incumbent Nancy Nerny raised $2,800 and spent $846. Robert

C. Walker, also an incumbent, raised $845 and spent $1,111 but his report did not explain how he spent more than he took in. A report had not been posted for law student John McManus by press time.

Speaking from home on Thursday evening Kelly said she thought all reports that had been received had been posted to the board’s website and, with the exception of Sliver, she could not say with certainty if the other candidate’s whose reports were not online had not been filed.