Foreign national campaign ban, ballot extension now law in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden will officially be on the Ohio general election ballot without a national virtual roll call vote and foreign nationals cannot fund state ballot issue campaigns.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the two bills passed in last week’s special legislative session into law Sunday. Both contain emergency provisions that allow them to take effect immediately.

The special session was the state’s first in a decade.

The first changes the state’s campaign finance law to ban foreign nationals from donating to state ballot issue campaigns even before the issues have been cleared to be on the ballot. It was amended in the House to include a ban on immigrants in the country legally with a green card.

The law also allows Attorney General Dave Yost to investigate complaints rather than using the state election commission, which has authority on all other election-related complaints.

The bill passed both the House and the Senate along party lines, and Democrats challenged the foreign money ban and Yost’s participation in investigations.

“Republicans, once again, used their gerrymandered supermajority to attack some of Ohioans most sacred fundamental freedoms,” said House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington. “This was never about so-called ‘foreign money’ or getting President Biden on the ballot. This was always about extremists’ continued assault on citizen-led ballot initiatives because they could care less what the people want. Extremists have always only cared about what they want, and all they want is absolute power, no matter its corruptive cost.”

Secretary of State Frank LaRose called the new law necessary to close a campaign finance loophole in state law. Foreign money was banned from individual campaigns but wasn’t banned for potential ballot issues.

“I applaud the General Assembly for moving quickly to close this campaign finance loophole,” LaRose said. “Ohio’s constitution expressly prohibits noncitizens from voting in our elections, and foreign billionaires shouldn’t be able to fund campaigns attempting to alter that very document.”

Last week, the Democratic National Committee announced it planned to conduct a virtual roll call vote to officially nominate Biden as its presidential candidate to beat Ohio’s former Aug. 7 deadline.

Despite the DNC’s change, Ohio lawmakers also passed and DeWine signed a bill that extends that deadline until after the planned Democratic National Convention Aug. 19-22 in Chicago.

The new law only extends the deadline for this year.

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