New Public Campaign Report Highlights Gun Money in Ohio
Public Campaign released a report today that traces the links between campaign contributions by gun interests and the pro-gun legislation proposed and passed by the Ohio legislature in recent years.
Gun groups have been pushing hard to get their favorite candidates in office and keep them there, spending nearly $400,000 in campaign contributions, according to Public Campaign analysis of data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Ohio Secretary of State. As a result, they’ve gotten much of the Ohio legislature’s leadership and scores of members on their side, and were able to win a “Stand Your Ground” law in 2008. Ohio’s law was modeled on the notorious Florida law implicated in Trayvon Martin’s death.
More recently, the Buckeye Firearms Association has been talking to Republican lawmakers about expanding Stand Your Ground, removing an obligation to retreat before firing anywhere it’s not illegal for the shooter to be. Also legislation was introduced and passed through the House in 2011 to make it easier to transfer gun permits from state to state, and to renew concealed carry licenses.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Pro-gun interests have spent nearly $400,000 on contributions to Ohio politicians since the 1996 election cycle. Eighty-nine percent ($346,861) of those contributions have gone to Republican candidates or committees, compared to $32,135 to Democrats. The Ohio Gun Collectors Association is the top donor, having given at least $165,361, and the National Rifle Association is close behind with $140,088.
- Ohio House Majority Whip John Adams has been the top recipient of gun industry money, taking $23,942, and was the state chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He sponsored the successful 2008 Stand Your Ground bill derived from the ALEC model bill made infamous by the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. More recently, he has championed the aforementioned measures to make it easier to transfer gun permits from other states and to renew concealed carry licenses.
- Beyond Rep. Adams, leadership in both the House and Senate is heavily tied to the gun industry. Senate President Thomas Niehaus (R-14) has taken $3,350 in gun money, House Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-69) has received $5,275, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Patton (R-24) topped them both with $6,125. All three co-sponsored the 2008 Stand Your Ground bill.
- Votes for the 2008 Stand Your Ground bill and campaign contributions from gun interests went hand in hand. In the House, legislators that voted in favor of the bill received 30 times more gun money on average as those who opposed the legislation. The split was even greater in the Senate, where lawmakers voting yes on Stand Your Ground enjoyed an average of 41 times more campaign money from gun interests compared to the law’s opponents.
With money and votes so closely tied, it’s no coincidence that while pro-gun legislation moves through the Ohio legislature, the victims of gun violence—overwhelmingly from low-income communities and unable to make big campaign contributions—lack the same kind of access and influence that pro-gun interests have.