Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio say backers of the amendment violated campaign finance laws by reporting that they raised only $50 to date. Ohioans Protecting the Constitution filed a complaint Monday with the Ohio Elections Commission. In it, they said amendment supporters should have reported money raised after they began collecting signatures, which started in April. Instead, the group filed a campaign finance report Thursday that said it had raised $50 and received $3,416 of in-kind contributions since the amendment had been certified for the November 2 ballot on September 29.
The complaint says the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage would have had to spend "far in excess" of that amount to gather 500,000 signatures and defend the petition process in court. The complaint also says that Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell isn't fulfilling his duty to examine the group's campaign finance records because of his support for Issue 1. Issue 1 would ban same-sex marriage under the Ohio constitution and prohibit state and local governments from granting legal status to unmarried couples of either sex.
Blackwell, a Republican who plans to run for governor in 2006, has recorded radio advertisements in support of Issue 1. His spokesman, Carlo LoParo, said the reporting deadline for the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage did not begin until September 29, when Blackwell certified the issue for the ballot. There were no reporting requirements for money raised while the group was collecting signatures or defending the petition process in court because the proposed amendment was not on the ballot at those times, LoParo said. Blackwell's support for Issue 1 has no bearing on the campaign finances of
amendment backers, LoParo said.