COLUMBUS - County political party state-candidate funds, increasingly used to legally circumvent campaign contribution limits, will be available online to make it easier to find out who's contributing to whom.
Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's top elections official, ordered the 30 counties that have state-candidate funds, 26 Republican accounts and 13 Democrat, to forward that information to the state for a search of all county accounts in a single database.
Previously, those interested in following the money had to visit each county.
The practice of using county state candidate funds as backdoors to state candidates' own campaign committees garnered increased attention in 2002 during Treasurer Joe Deters successful re-election campaign.
Mr. Deters, former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, encouraged those who'd maxed out contributions to his campaign to give to the county party, knowing that it was favorably inclined toward him.
Individuals or political action committees may contribute up to $5,000 per calendar year to a candidate, but they may also make a like contribution to county state candidate funds. The county funds are then permitted to contribute as much as $540,000 to statewide candidates, $109,500 to state Senate candidates, and $54,500 to House candidates.
To visit the secretary of state's Web site, the address is www.sos.state.oh.us.