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Monday, November 7, 2011

RE: STARK COUNTY'S "VOTES FOR WOMEN" - "COALITION OF WOMEN VOTERS": DOES OHIO NEED A "POLITICAL AFFILIATION DISCLOSURE" DISCLOSURE LAW?



One of the most prestigious civic organizations in all of America is the League of Women Voters.

Beyond time-tested and well known organizations like the LWV, voters should beware of political endorsements have "high-sounding" names!

At least, in Stark County, Ohio with the Coalition of Women Voters (CWV) and Votes for Women (VFW).

In what the Stark County Political Report believes to be a take off of the highly respected, non-partisan League of Women Voters, both Stark County mainline political parties (i.e. the Stark County Democratic Party and the Stark County Republican Party) have had for some time now CWV (the Democrats - since 2003) and VFW (the Republicans - since ?) as organizations for women that raise money for and endorse the respective party's candidates and have assumed (in the opinion of the SCPR) "neutral-esque" names in order to deceive the uniformed into thinking that the candidates endorsed are endorsed by a non-partisan organizations.

CWV/VFW non-partisan?  DEFINITELY NOT the case!!!

And industrious Stark Countians can find out for themselves that non-partisan is not the case by doing a little digging.

But why should they have to?

As part of Ohio's campaign finance law, an amendment should be initiated by the Stark County legislative delegation (Republicans:  Hagan, Schuring and Oelslager; Democrat Slesnick) requiring a disclosure on each and every endorsement by these subsidiary Stark County Democratic Party (Coalition of Women Voters) and Stark County Republican Party (Votes for Women) groups that the organization is a creation of their respective parties.

In the meantime, in future elections Stark County's candidates should reveal on their campaign brochures and flyers and, indeed, on all their political advertising that includes CWV/VFW endorsements, the political affiliation of each organization so that voters know about the partisan ties.

The SCPR will be looking at literature published by future Stark County-based campaigns and will identify to The Report's readers which candidates are failing to disclose the partisan nature of CWV/VFW endorsement affiliation.

It is interesting to note that on a "these are our endorsements" flyer sent out by the Issue 29 folks (the people support the 0.5% sales tax), neither the Coalition for Women Voters and Votes for Women appear.

Undoubtedly, had the Issue 29 proponents asked, both CWV and VFW would have been all too happy to endorse.

Rather, the Issue 29 supporters did it the right way.  They went and got the endorsements of the Stark Democratic and Republican parties outright, to wit:


Who are the Stark County Democrats and Republicans who are supporting the CWV and VFW subsidiary organizations?

A good place to look is at campaign finance statements filed with the Stark County Board of Elections (last one, being last week, perusal of which triggered this blog) - interestingly enough - under the category "political action committees."  

Hardly, non-partisan, no?

Perhaps the participants (many of whom are recipient officeholders or candidates for office) have not realized/focused on what the SCPR believes to be deceptive aspects of using the neutral/non-partisan implied titles Coalition of Women Voters and Votes for Women without party affiliation disclaimers and, accordingly, should be given a pass for this and preceding election cycles.

Going on into the future, non-candidate contributors (participants from the standpoint of "merely" being contributors) need to internally (i.e. at a monthly meeting of his/her organization) to push for a policy change requiring disclosure of political affiliation as being a condition of the CWV and the VFW issuing endorsements.

Beyond what the parties themselves do, Stark Countians interested in full disclosure should be contacting participants and insist that both the Stark Dems and GOP institute a disclosure of political party affiliation disclosure with each and every CWV/VFW endorsement.

The SCPR, for one, will not be issuing passes (in the sense of participants/candidates not understanding that some of us think an endorsement without a party affiliation disclosure is unacceptable) for elections beyond November, 2011.

Will Stark County's political parties do the right thing? 

Or, will they opt to knowingly (now that the SCPR has identified this perception problem) add to the growing public disenchantment with and distrust of both political parties?

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