Union Front “We Are Ohio” Joins Redistricting Initiative

The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier this week that We Are Ohio, the union front group that spent over $40 million blocking public union reform in 2011, has joined “Voters First Ohio,” a campaign to rewrite Ohio’s decennial redistricting process. We Are Ohio’s official involvement skews the leanings of Voters First even further to the left than previously reported by Media Trackers Ohio.

The opening sentence of the Dispatch story repeats a common error by describing We Are Ohio as a “coalition of Democrats and union supporters.” While Democrats have indeed funded We Are Ohio, more than 95 percent of the group’s funding comes directly from unions — not “union supporters.”

We Are Ohio funding

The Democrat figure above includes contributions from local Democratic parties, the Ohio Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee, Democratic Governors Association, and Obama for America, as well as from the campaigns of Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish and U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Included in the catch-all “union supporters” total are contributions of $10,000 from Boyd Tinsley — violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, and a resident of Virginia — $34,862 from the far-left America Votes, and $66,844 from the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.

Combined, contributions not from a labor union accounted for less than 5 percent of We Are Ohio’s funding in 2011. Based on publicly available data from the Ohio Secretary of State, describing We Are Ohio as anything but a union group is grossly inaccurate.

Ann Henkener, a director with League of Women Voters of Ohio, made the Voters First case in the announcement that We Are Ohio had joined the initiative. Transcribed from video available at Ohio Capital Blog:

We see this past year how well the politicians have handled it, and so it, it really is, it’s time now. They operate by their own rules, they’ve been protecting themselves for years now. Essentially the foxes have been in charge of guarding the hen-house, and they’ve not been very good guards of the voters.

Voters First, which claims the support of more than 25 nonpartisan groups, relies heavily on the credibility of League of Women Voters of Ohio, a group that has sought for years to, in Henkener’s words, “put people in charge, rather than the politicians.”

But, as Media Trackers Ohio has reported, the Voters First plan was developed by two Democrat donors, and the short list of Voters First endorsements released to the public tilts heavily to the left. The support of We Are Ohio makes this a much larger issue: while demanding “fair” elections, Voters First partners are explicitly dedicated to causes which hinge on electing the left-most politicians possible.

The Ohio Education Association, for instance, is Ohio’s largest public union and a consistent advocate of far-left policies. Ohio Voice is an umbrella group of union-backed leftist organizations.

Henkener repeated We Are Ohio’s dishonest label in the announcement that We Are Ohio had officially joined Voters First. Media Trackers Ohio has proven — as further illustrated by the chart above — that We Are Ohio is not a “grassroots, citizen-driven, nonpartisan coalition,” but a union front group.

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