Ohio Supreme Court shoots down Brecksville's effort against citizen initiative

October 2, 2012
Pat Galbincea

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio -- Brecksville resident Rose Petsche saw it as David taking down Goliath on Monday when the Ohio Supreme Court nixed the city's efforts to block a grassroots initiative aimed at ending runaway campaign financing on a national level.

Petsche, head of the Brecksville Citizens for Transparent Politics, succeeded in getting the initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot that would require Brecksville city leaders to support a constitutional amendment to abolish unlimited corporate and union spending on political campaigns.

If adopted, the initiative would require Brecksville to hold an annual freedom day with a public hearing to gather public input on political union and corporate political contributions, which grew out of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United.

The mayor would be required to send letters to state and federal officials saying Brecksville residents support the constitutional amendment that corporations are not people with First Amendment rights.

City leaders fought to keep the issue off the ballot because they saw it as federal issue that the city has no control over. They asked the court to intervene after Secretary of State Jon Husted ruled that the ballot issues in Brecksville and Newburgh Heights were valid.

The court sided with the citizens by declining to issue a judgement preventing the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to put the issue on the ballot and refusing to overrule what Husted did.

"I'm so excited," Petsche said. "We want the city and the mayor to work with us. We need to work together and raise spending awareness and get people motivated to make a change.

She said that the issue is important to Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

"We think everyone is uneasy with the campaign ads we are watching and the millions of dollars that is being spent in this election cycle paid for by those who are allowed to spend millions of dollars while hiding behind a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United," she said.

Brecksville Mayor Jerry N. Hruby was not pleased with the court's decision, but he said he would not fight it.

"From what I could see, they were only looking at the issue of whether it should go on the ballot or not," Hruby said. "I disagree with their ruling, but we will abide by it. What they decided might not be in the best interests of cities."

Jane Platten, director for the Board of Elections, said when she heard of the court's decision, she ordered new ballots for Brecksville to include the issue.


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