Alliance for America’s Future
The Alexandria, Virginia-based Alliance for America’s Future (AFAF) has spent over seven figures in an effort to flood millions of Ohio voters’ mailboxes with fliers encouraging a “yes” vote on Issue 2 to uphold the bill. Heading the AFAF is Mary Cheney, the daughter of former vice president’ Dick Cheney, and Barry Bennert, former chief of staff to Ohio Congresswoman Jen Schmidt (R-2nd District). The Alliance does not disclose its corporate donors.
Ohio is just one of 30 states, including Wisconsin, in which the AFAF has become involved. Their official website offers no information on staff or current projects, but instead offers a single webpage stating the AFAF is “dedicated to educating and advocating sound economic and security policies that will foster growth, prosperity, and peace for America’s future.”
The group's fliers include lines such as “OBAMA wants us to do things HIS WAY? Yes on Issue 2 is our chance to do things OUR WAY,” and “Yes on Issue 2 will get POLITICIANS to do the right thing on spending.”
Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks
FreedomWorks, the D.C.-based group affiliated with the Tea Party and led by Dick Armey, has distributed tens of thousands of door hangers and yard signs in Ohio that read “Yes on Issue 2 & 3.”
FreedomWorks, which is led by people who previously worked for David Koch's "Citizens for a Sound Economy," FreedomWorks' predecessor group, does not disclose its corporate donors, and its leaders are drawn heavily from the leadership of the Republican Party and right-wing operatives. FreedomWorks asserts that it is not affiliated with any Issue 2 or 3 Campaign or Committee.
The FreedomWorks website encourages visitors to download and print available door hangers (pdf) with a promise that “tens of thousands more [are] on the way.”
The group also created the website YesForJobs.com, which allows Ohioans to download absentee ballots and provides information on where to send them.
Ohio Liberty Council
The Ohio Liberty Council (OLC), a Tea Party group headed by 12 council board members, has released two television ads in support of Issue 2. The OLC claims group leaders and “private citizens” fund it. President, Tom Zawistowski and Vice President, Jason Mihalick lead the OLC, which does not disclose its donors.
In one OLC ad, the narrator states that Issue 2 is not one of “pro-union” or “anti-union” but rather about “taxpayers rights.”
A second television ad, “The Story of a Broke Ohio,” states that we will be in a deficit because “96 percent of schools tax revenue will go toward staff compensation,” and what they call “Gold-plated pensions and benefits.”
This statistic was pulled from a study by The Buckeye Institute, a conservative 501 (c)(3) “research organization” that has been used in a number of campaigns and as an “expert” on SB5. The Buckeye Institute “study” highlights the projected deficits of nineteen Central Ohio School Districts, and concludes that Central Ohio School Districts will have a budget deficit of nearly $1 billion by 2015 unless compensation packages are realigned or taxes are raised.
The “study” was released as an ad that appeared in twenty-two suburban news weeklies across central Ohio. The ad on its own does not mention SB 5, but it is used in a number of pro SB 5 campaigns.
The “study” places the burden of responsibility for the deficit on government employees, and ignores the fact that Ohio union officials agreed to pay more for insurance and accept wage cuts and freezes.
Americans for Prosperity
The Americans for Prosperity Ohio branch is organizing support for SB 5. AFP Ohio has scheduled more than a dozen town hall meetings across Ohio, organized phone banks and is currently urging supporters of the bill to defend Building a Better Ohio’s “Life or Death” ad featuring great-grandmother Marlene Quinn.
Americans for Prosperity is chaired by oil billionaire David Koch and funded by Koch money and other undisclosed sources. The group includes both a 501(c)(3) that received over $10 million in 2009, and a 501(c)(4) that received over $16 million that year. Neither the national AFP nor its state arms disclose their donors.
Americans for Prosperity’s Ohio branch received a web endorsement from Gov. Kasich in June. In a web-only video, Gov. Kasich praises AFP-Ohio. He refers to the group as “fighters for freedom” and thanks them for their “support to the effort to get Ohio back on track.”
Make Ohio Great
Make Ohio Great is spending thousands to aid Gov. Kasich in his defense of SB 5. Make Ohio Great is a group founded and funded by the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which spent over $9 million to elect Gov. Kasich in 2010. The RGA is funded by billionaires like David Koch and Rupert Murdoch, as well as numerous large corporations. The RGA spent tens of millions on advertisements in the 2010 election year. In August 2010 Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation donated $1 million to the RGA, along with David Koch and others. Make Ohio Great disputes claims that they are a group set up for secret cash to flow in defense of SB 5.
Make Ohio Great reportedly bought $48,100 in airtime with WBNS-TV.
In the ad, titled “Kasich Getting the Jobs Done,” Kasich asks Ohioans to “take a new path,” and boasts that he has balanced the budget without raising taxes.
Kasich may be speaking too soon, as his economic plan for Ohio depends in part on SB 5 becoming law. The cost-savings come from requiring employees pay more for health insurance, and limiting their vacation and sick time, some of which unions had agreed to voluntarily. Ending collective bargaining, though, saved the state no money -- despite messaging to the contrary by out-of-state right-wing organizations, balanced budgets need not come at the expense of collective bargaining.