Money from anonymous donors influences local elections

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Anonymous political spending by tax-exempt social welfare groups has ballooned in recent years.

FOX19 talked to some local political experts to find out how money from anonymous donors can influence local elections.

According to Ohio Campaign Finance Reports, anonymous donations in favor of reforming Cincinnati's pension system total about a quarter million dollars. But Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke says the lack of transparency is troubling.

"When the money is kept secret as to who the real sources of these funds are by establishing an organization that has a name, but no identity beyond that name that purpose of transparency is defeated," explains Burke.

Organizations such as Jobs and Progress Fund, A Public Voice and Ohio Rising are social welfare groups that don't have to pay taxes and don't have to say who their donors are.

"We're in favor of free speech and more information going to the voters so you know the more information voters have the better," says Hamilton County G.O.P. Chairman Alex Triantafilou. "There are disclosure requirements under the law. We've got to follow those and we're always going to be airing on the side in favor of more free speech and more speech in the electoral process."

Xavier University political science professor Gene Beaupre says free speech also comes with responsibility.

"We're in a democracy," says Beaupre. "We ought to be able to stand up and say what we believe, what we personally believe, and take the consequences of that and this avoids that possibility."

Dr. Beaupre says depending on how money is targeted anonymous funding can have a great impact on an election and he expects the amount of money from anonymous donors to increase.

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