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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

U.S. chamber gives $275K for Ohio high-court races

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has again weighed in on Ohio's Supreme Court elections, giving the state chamber $275,000 toward ads promoting a pair of Republicans.

Citizens for a Strong Ohio, the nonprofit arm of the Ohio Chamber, has raised nearly $1.8 million, largely from corporations, to finance radio and television ads.

The U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Justice has given Strong Ohio $275,000, becoming its largest contributor to date.

The latest radio ad unveiled yesterday by Strong Ohio seeks to increase the statewide name recognition of appointed Justice Terrence O'Donnell and Toledo-based appellate Judge Judith Ann Lanzinger.

The 60-second ad says Judge Lanzinger "understands that selfish, frivolous lawsuits drive jobs from our state" and that Justice O'Donnell "understands he must uphold the law, not create new laws from the bench."

Justice O'Donnell is seeking to complete the two-year term to which he was appointed last year. He faces Democratic opposition from Warren-based appellate Judge William O'Neill.

Judge Lanzinger hopes to replace retiring Justice Francis Sweeney, a Cleveland Democrat.

She faces opposition from Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Nancy A. Fuerst.

Strong Ohio continues to finance such ads despite an ongoing investigation by the Ohio Elections Commission into its use of anonymous corporate dollars in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Justice Alice Robie Resnick, an Ottawa Hills Democrat, in 2000.

This year, as in 2002, the independent issue-advocacy organization is disclosing who is financing its efforts.

After the U.S. Chamber, the largest contributors to date are the American Insurance Association at $250,000, Proctor & Gamble at $160,000, the Ohio Chamber at $105,000, and Nationwide, Grange, Ohio Casualty, and State Farm insurance companies at $100,000 each.

Further down the list at $30,000 is Toledo-based Owens-Illinois Inc. Earlier this year it pushed for the passage of legislation limiting when asbestos lawsuits may be filed.

A challenge to that law is eventually expected to reach the court.

So far, commercials financed from outside interests to support court candidates have been largely one-sided for the Republicans.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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