Unions Pour Another $4 Million into Voters First


Voters First Ohio, the campaign to rewrite Ohio’s political map-making process, has raked in over $4 million from labor unions since July 1, according to filings with the secretary of state. Unions accounted for 97 percent of the group’s new funding through October 17.

Voters First received only 612 contributions from individuals during the months-long reporting period, for a total of just $32,491. Meanwhile, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) – which is taking an extra $22 from every member for the campaign – contributed over $1.6 million in cash and in-kind support.

The National Education Association (NEA) sent $1 million from its D.C. headquarters, while various branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) contributed $835,670. AFL-CIO affiliates in Ohio and D.C. gave $235,602.

The chart below shows all Voters First funding, from the group’s creation this winter through October 17.

Voters First funding

Labor unions have accounted for 96 percent of all the cash and in-kind contributions Voters First has taken in – $5,898,843 of the $6,119,735 total.

Far and away the largest donor, OEA has dumped nearly $2.4 million in member dues into the unions’ redistricting takeover initiative. AFSCME headquarters in D.C. and locals in Ohio have chipped in another $1.2 million.

In total, Voters First Ohio has received over $1.6 million from D.C. unions and less than $60,000 from just 657 contributions by individual donors. D.C. labor union donations outweigh individual giving by a ratio of more than 27:1.

As Media Trackers noted in coverage of the group’s semiannual filings at the end of July, a large portion of the amount contributed to Voters First by individuals has come in the form of two $10,000 donations.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has sent Voters First $100,000 from its national headquarters. United Auto Workers (UAW) affiliates have contributed a total of $67,876, and American Association of University Professors (AAUP) affiliates submitted $65,500.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have each contributed $50,000 to Voters First.

From a financial standpoint, the League of Women Voters – whose Ohio branch is advertised as the backbone of Voters First – barely registers, with just over $6,500 in total contributions.

Media Trackers has reported since this spring that Voters First Ohio is a union front. More than 94 percent of the nearly $2 million the group received through June 30 came from unions, whose offices were also used for nearly all of the Voters First petition locations when the group was working to place its issue on the general election ballot.

We Are Ohio, a key backer of Voters First and itself a union front, submitted no campaign finance report for the pre-general election period based on a search of the secretary of state’s database.

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