close
close

Lawsuit challenges Ohio law banning foreign nationals from donating to voting campaigns

Lawsuit challenges Ohio law banning foreign nationals from donating to voting campaigns

Ohio’s new law, which bans foreign nationals and green card holders from contributing to state voting campaigns, now faces a challenge in federal court. The lawsuit, filed by Democratic law firms Elias Law Group and Cooper Elliott, claims the law infringes on constitutionally protected rights of free speech and association.

Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed the measure on June 2. The law will go into effect on September 1 and was bundled with another bill that adjusts Ohio’s election calendar to ensure President Joe Biden appears on the November ballots.

The lawsuit states that HB 1 “unconstitutionally restricts public debate” by imposing broad restrictions on spending related to voting issues. It says: “Because of HB 1, all non-citizens are now threatened with investigation, criminal prosecution, and mandatory fines if they so much as indicate that they intend to engage in election-related expenditures or contributions – including supporting or opposing ballot questions in almost every country. capacity.”

The challenge is filed on behalf of OPAWL – Building AAPI Feminist Leadership, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, a German citizen and her husband in Cleveland, and a Canadian citizen in Silver Lake. OPAWL is a grassroots organization representing Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander women and non-binary individuals in Ohio.

Republican lawmakers pushed for the ban after several ballot measures last year conflicted with their preferences, including protecting access to abortion, rejecting a proposal to make constitutional amendments more difficult to pass and legalizing recreational marijuana.

Committees involved in these ballot measures received donations from entities linked to Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, although direct connections to Ohio campaigns are unclear due to existing campaign finance laws. Wyss lives in Wyoming.

John Fortney, spokesman for Republican Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, claimed the lawsuit shows Democrats’ reliance on donations from wealthy foreigners. “The Ohio Constitution is not for sale, despite the progressive left’s un-American sellout to foreign influence,” he declared.

The inclusion of green card holders in the ban was a controversial decision made on the House floor despite opposition from state Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati attorney and senior Republican. Seitz cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that suggested such bans on green card holders would raise “substantial questions” about constitutionality.