$10 million spent on Issue 2 bid: Workers comp fight sets a state record

By John McCarthy Associated Press Published:

The issue, which would have brought changes to Ohio's workers' compensation system, was defeated Nov. 4 by a vote of 57 percent to 43 percent.

Keep Ohio Working, which backed the changes, spent a total of $7.78 million in its losing campaign, while the Committee to Stop Corporate Attacks on Injured Workers, which opposed Issue 2, spent $2.45 million.

The price per vote? About $5.10 for each vote in favor of Issue 2; about $1.09 for those who opposed the issue.

The previous spending record for a state issue came in 1994, when the two sides in the campaign to repeal Ohio's soft-drink tax spent $10.12 million. That tax was repealed by a 2-1 ratio.

A "yes" vote on Issue 2 would have approved the changes that backers said were necessary to cut abuses of the system and speed up claims processing. A "no" vote rejected the changes, which opponents said would have favored business and punished workers who file legitimate claims.

Keep Ohio Working raised $6.84 million, including $2.90 million collected after Oct. 15, the deadline for the pre-general election reporting period.

Large contributors during the latest reporting period, which ended Dec. 5, included the Ohio Health Care Association, which gave a total of $155,000; and Chrysler Corp., the Ohio Auto Dealers Association and Procter & Gamble, which gave $100,000 each.

American Financial Corp., controlled by Cincinnati's Carl Lindner family, helped to pay off the bills with a $50,000 donation on Nov. 12 _ eight days after the election.

The bulk of Keep Ohio Working's spending went to television ads: $2.58 million for the stretch run. Other companies made in-kind contributions, which helped to inflate the spending total.

According to figures from the pre-general reports, Keep Ohio Working also received $500,000 from the Ohio Manufacturers Association, while the Ohio Chamber of Commerce donated $455,000.

Opponents of Issue 2 collected a total of $2.52 million, including $358,000 during the latest reporting period.

Leading contributors during that time were the United Auto Workers, which contributed at least $60,000; the AFL-CIO, which gave $70,000 and the Teamsters union, which gave $50,000.

The pre-general report showed that the AFL-CIO had given more than $770,000, while the UAW gave $210,000. The Ohio Association of Trial Lawyers also kicked in more than $200,000 before Oct. 15.

A call to Keep Ohio Working Chairman Andrew Doehrel was not returned Friday evening. The number for the Committee to Stop Corporate attacks no longer is in use.

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