Friday, November 12, 1999
Legislator vows to press reform
'2 Percent Club' a prime target
BY JANICE MORSE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Despite a legislative committee's lukewarm response on Wednesday, Rep. Jeff Jacobson, R-Dayton, on Thursday vowed to continue his fight for a statewide ban on the so-called 2 Percent Club practice of public employees giving to their boss' campaign funds.
This is the way all ethics reform happens, said Mr. Jacobson, who is chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and Standards. It never starts out with people saying, "Great idea! Sign me up.' This is a crusade, and it's not going to go away.
Mr. Jacobson on Wednesday used examples of the practice in Butler County Prosecutor John F. Holcomb's office to show why the law is needed. Last month The Enquirer reported Mr. Holcomb amassed a $155,000 campaign fund, mostly from his own employees giving 2 percent of their salaries. Some ex-employees said co-workers pressured them to contribute, but some current employees said they gave willingly.
Although several members of the House Technology and Elections Committee called Mr. Holcomb's tactics despicable, they questioned the need to change a law in light of just one example.
Even though some might think it's just for this one case, it's not, Mr. Jacobson said. It's happening all over the state in both parties, but on a smaller scale and it's wrong for anybody to do this.
Mr. Jacobson said he intends to call for additional hearings on his legislation.
Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, on Thursday said he was disappointed by fellow lawmakers' remarks regarding Mr. Jacobson's testimony. I don't think they understand the seriousness of the issue here in Butler County, Mr. Cates said. I still think they are skirting around the issue ... I think it's time to clamp down on this practice.
To make the ban more palatable, Mr. Cates said he was considering drafting a scaled-down version of Mr. Jacobson's bill so that it covered county office holders but left other local officials unaffected.
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