Sunday, October 24, 1999

About the 2 Percent Club

        • The practice of public employees contributing to political campaign funds dates back many years. It is sometimes called “macing,” after the mace, a medieval weapon used as a symbol of authority.

        • Controversy over federal employees giving money to political parties under “the spoils system” led to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1883. It prohibited federal employees from soliciting campaign funds from other federal employees.

        • Laws in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky prohibit solicitations of state employees for campaign contributions, but unsolicited contributions are allowed in Indiana and Kentucky. Ohio law forbids state employees from making such contributions.

        • In Indiana, Democratic Gov. Paul McNutt is credited with establishing the 2 Percent Club in the 1930s, which mandated employee contributions to political parties. In the 1970s, a lawsuit made the contributions voluntary. In 1989, Gov. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, issued an executive order banning even voluntary payroll contributions from state employees.

        • In Butler County, Clerk of Courts Thomas Robb Jr. was the first to begin payroll deductions from his employees. After complaints in 1976, Prosecutor John F. Holcomb issued an opinion declaring the contributions legal if they were voluntary and not a condition of employment. By 1995, employees in only three county offices were making such payments to their bosses: Treasurer Mary C. Law, Clerk of Courts Mark Baden and Mr. Holcomb. •

        - Janice Morse / Enquirer library


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