Organizations Comprised of Local Governments Refuse to Disclose Lobbying Activity on Estate Tax and Government Spending
Columbus–The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, on behalf of Relators Dayton Tea Party and Robert Scott, yesterday filed in the Ohio Supreme Court a Public Records Complaint demanding Ohio Municipal League (OML) and Ohio Township Association (OTA) lobbying records. Both the OML and OTA have used public funds to lobby against Ohio Estate Tax repeal and other tax cuts, property rights and the right to bear arms, and in favor of inflated state spending.
The Ohio Municipal League is a non-profit organization that was created by city government officials, and is comprised of and funded by more than 250 cities and 680 villages. The Ohio Township Association is an association of Ohio townships whose membership contains 99.8 percent of all elected township trustees and township fiscal officers in Ohio.
Both groups exist and survive due to public funding, and invest these funds in advocacy for greater government spending, and against tax cuts and individual rights. Lately, both have heavily advocated for greater state spending on local governments and against repeal of Ohio’s worst-in-the-nation Estate Tax (80 percent of estate tax revenue is transferred to local governments).
Under the “Functional Equivalency Test” a nominally non-public Ohio entity can be subjected to the Public Records Act if it is the functional equivalent of a public office. The test’s factors include the level of government funding and the extent of government involvement or regulation.
The 1851 Center argues that the OML and OTA are the functional equivalent of public offices, as both organizations were created by, are funded by, and exist to serve local governments and public officials.
“Ohioans have a right to know the politically and ideologically-motivated ends to which their tax dollars are being put, and rise in opposition to those ends,” said 1851 Center Director Maurice Thompson. “Through the OML and OTA, Ohio’s local officials tax their citizens and use these tax dollars to lobby for higher taxes yet, all the while escaping scrutiny for this agenda by running it through the OML or OTA. Citizens have a right to know exactly how and why their hard-earned money is being used like this.”
June 1, 2011 – Complaint for Writ of Mandamus
June 3, 2011 – Dayton Business Journal: Dayton Tea Party Sues Several Ohio Groups