Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Blackwell pushes for end to secret political accounts


Inside Ohio's Capital

Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus bureau

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell stirred up a little heat when he said the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law should mean the end to the secret political accounts kept by county and state political parties in Ohio.

"The continued use of secret operating accounts without full disclosure is a direct violation of the law," Blackwell said, speaking last week at a panel discussion hosted by the Associated Press. He repeated his call for officials to liquidate those accounts.

He also got a laugh when he pointed out that former Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Jacobson once said he would disclose his operating account over his dead body. "I think somebody's going to have to take his pulse this year," Blackwell said.

Jacobson, a state senator from suburban Dayton who is a contender for the Senate president's post next year, said he was telling a joke at the time. But he was quick to add that he's not buying Blackwell's stance.

"Secretary Blackwell should read the Fourth Amendment, which says you should have probable cause before you poke your nose in someone else's business," he said.

Blackwell praised Attorney General Jim Petro, who was also on the panel, for saying that if the issue winds up in court, he would argue on behalf of the position of his client - the Secretary of State.

"He's my man," Blackwell said with a grin.

PLAYING NICE: In a little preview of things to come, Blackwell and Petro appeared with State Auditor Betty Montgomery at the panel discussion. The three likely candidates for governor in 2006 were relatively polite to one another.

In fact, Petro and Montgomery - whose offices have been bickering for months - both went out of their way to praise each other, with Petro saying Montgomery did a solid job as former attorney general and Montgomery saying Petro laid a strong foundation as former state auditor.

"I had to tip my hat to Jim, I know that's odd," Montgomery said. "But it's easier to put the point on the pencil when there is a strong foundation."

Petro also cozied up a little with Blackwell, suggesting that repealing a new one-cent state sales tax that generates about $1.6 billion annually isn't such a bad idea. He said that maybe the legislature could eliminate the tax as early as this July - a full year before it is supposed to expire in 2005.

Blackwell, who is heading the repeal drive, said the tax should never have been enacted.

Montgomery disagreed with both of them. Doing away with the tax early would cause budget chaos, she said.

---

Debra Jasper (djasper@enquirer.com) and Spencer Hunt (shunt@enquirer.com) cover the Statehouse.




ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Kids, council need to do the right thing
Blackwell pushes for end to secret political accounts
Car buffs donate $50K to hospital

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Ohio wins new uranium plant
Dowlin refuses DeWine debate
Deal avoids primary battle
Lawyer asks out of church lawsuit
Public library doing more with less
Arrest led to deputy
Biographer to speak on 'soul' of pope
District loses commandments court battle
Man killed at bar's door
Builder's racketeering conviction upheld
Drug arrests follow probe of Cheviot bar

EDUCATION HEADLINES
Fantasy reading makes TV disappear
Principal wins slander suit
NKU foresees rise in tuition
Police say couple took sex photos of students
Sports commentator to speak at Moeller

NEIGHBORHOOD HEADLINES
Blighted area reawakens
Visits by 'Apple Lady' bear fruit for patients
Lakeside Park agrees to study merger with Crestview Hills
Loveland debate canceled
Mall tops list of Crestview Hills mayor's goals
Indian Hill relaxes cell-phone tower rule
Water compromise pondered
Computer training available in city

LIVES REMEMBERED
John Iden, ballet pianist