COLUMBUS — The anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign filed suit last fall to give them more time to collect petition signatures, and just as the Ohio Supreme Court was set to consider the case, donors connected to the criminal conspiracy behind House Bill 6 gave to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy.
“As we learn more about the criminal conspiracy to enact House Bill 6 and prevent it from being overturned by a ballot initiative, we learn all of the ways the co-conspirators used their influence — and campaign cash — at various points of the political process,” said Ohio Democratic Party Executive Director Greg Beswick. “Two donors connected to the conspiracy gave to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy just as the court was getting ready to rule on the status of the anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign. The timing and connections here raise serious questions and certainly create the appearance of a conflict of interest — yet, Justice Kennedy declined to recuse herself from deciding in this case. The voters of Ohio deserve to hear from the justice herself about these contributions.
“On the Ohio Supreme Court, Kennedy has shown over and over again that she works for the wealthy and powerful in this state, not everyday Ohioans, and that’s why we need to elect Judge John O’Donnell this November.”
On Sept. 23, 2019, at a meeting between Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Neil Clark, two of the men arrested this week as part of the conspiracy, Clark detailed the effort to thwart the anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign. Householder said, “It is so important, it is so important, that they are not successful, because when the legislature votes on something, it needs to stay law.”
On Sept. 25, Matt Borges, who was also arrested as part of the conspiracy, gave $1,000 to Kennedy.
On Sept. 27, three justices recused themselves from the case. Two had campaign managers that were named in the lawsuit. Kennedy did not recuse.
On Oct. 18, Lauren Huddleston, who works for Clark’s firm, Grant Street Consultants, also gave to Kennedy.
On Dec. 24, the state Supreme Court decided to hear the lawsuit.
On Jan. 21, 2020, the anti-House Bill 6 ballot campaign dropped the suit, citing the immense cost of continuing to pursue it. A spokesman for the campaign said, “We decided we did not have the resources to continue the fight. The heavy-handed spending spree (by opponents) made money a priority. The issues were on our side, but we couldn’t match the spending they were doing. It really tipped the scales against citizen participation and citizen referendum.”