When political campaign seasons roll around, it becomes all the more essential that a public official’s conduct is being carried out in the most ethical and accountable of ways. Throughout my time serving as state representative, I have made an effort to show as much transparency as possible, and also let everyone back in the district know what is going on in Columbus. That’s why I write a column on a weekly basis to keep you informed.

Over the years, I’m sure many bad situations could have been prevented had there been more transparency and accountability to the public. For instance, following an audit of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA), it was revealed that the organization had illegally loaned nearly $67,000 to Citizens for TARTA, which is the political action committee that helps fund TARTA’s levy campaigns.

Public money should never been used for political purposes. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we take a close look at how campaign finance laws are organized and carried out. Earlier this year, I voted in favor of legislation—House Bill 326— to help prevent public officials from knowingly using public funds for political purposes.

The legislation, which was signed into law in June, imposes a criminal penalty for this kind of activity, making it a first-degree misdemeanor. This also makes the penalty similar to other campaign finance law violations, further protecting the public from such an inappropriate use of public money. While the law already prevented the use of tax dollars for political purposes, there was no criminal penalty.

House Bill 326 became effective this week (September 5), and I know that it will be very important in keeping your taxpayer dollars from benefitting a particular candidate, campaign committee, political action committee, legislative campaign fund, political party or others.

Keeping public officials accountable is the goal of House Bill 326. A situation like the one that happened with TARTA shows great disrespect for our taxpaying citizens. If a similar situation were to take place again, it’s vital that we have a proper way of addressing it. The new law creates good policy that serves the people.

The law was also created through a piece of legislation that Republicans and Democrats were able to come together on. There’s no doubt that it’s a significant issue, and members on both sides of the aisle must keep a watchful eye.

I cannot stress enough how essential it is for legislators to keep those they represent at the forefront of their thoughts and actions. This includes protecting taxpayer dollars, and I’m proud that we have accomplished that through House Bill 326.


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