While contributions to Ohio's two main political party committees have held relatively steady following passage of federal campaign-finance reform, giving to state legislative caucuses has doubled from the previous presidential-election cycle.
The four legislative caucus committees, combined, had raised more than $7 million by April of this year, compared to the $3.6 million they raised at the same point in the 2000 election cycle. The increase stands out in a review of contributions that examined how — or if — the state committees' fundraising has changed since Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). Also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, the law — among other things—banned "soft" money raised through large, unlimited contributions by the national party committees.
The national party committees passed much of that soft money on to their state counterparts in the past. During the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, Ohio's Democratic and Republican state committees received $16 million in soft money from the national committees; $14 million of that amount was given in the last presidential-election cycle.
With national party soft-money out of Ohio's political picture, the state parties need to look elsewhere for the millions they've received from the national parties in the past. The study shows that the two state parties reported raising $6.7 million of hard- and soft-money contributions through April 2, 2004, comparable to their reported 2002 totals at the same point. But the amount is down from the $7.6 million they reported raising during the 2000 presidential cycle.
The Institute's review also shows that new major players have surfaced at the state level this cycle to help fill the void. The Institute identified 14 individuals who had contributed $10,000 or more to the party committees as of April 2004 but had given nothing in previous cycles.