Park Levy Supporters Raise $647,000 For Issue 22

Oct 22, 2015

Burnet Woods Park, Clifton
Credit Keith Lanser / Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

To say the proponents of Issue 22, which would place a one mill permanent tax levy in Cincinnati’s charter, are out-spending the opposition would be the understatement of the century.

Citizens for Cincinnati Parks, the pro-Issue 22 committee, raised $647,535 through Oct. 14, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. Just over half of the money came from corporate interests and corporations.

Save Our Parks, the committee opposed to Issue 22, raised only $3,154, according to its campaign finance report.

The pro-Issue campaign’s report actually lists $847,000 in contributions, but that includes $200,000 that the campaign was forced to return to an affiliated group called Great Parks, Great Neighborhoods Inc. because it was funneled through the Cincinnati Park Board, which received the money from a private foundation.

That money was returned after the Oct. 14 cut-off for the pre-election campaign finance report.

The largest single donation to the pro-Issue 22 effort was $100,000, which came from the Uptown Consortium, a development agency focused on the area near the University of Cincinnati campus and the Uptown hospitals.

The major corporate donors include:

-         Duke Energy ($50,000)

-         The Cincinnati Regional Business Committee ($50,000)

-         Cincinnati Bell ($25,000)

-         American Financial ($50,000)

-         Western & Southern Life Insurance ($50,000)

-         and The Kroger Co. ($50,000).

There were 23 donations of $10,000 or more; and they accounted for about 85 percent of the funds raised by the pro-Issue 22 committee.

There are no contribution limits under election law on donations to issue campaigns.

Many of the contributions from individuals, which made up nearly one-third of the total, came from people in Hyde Park.

“This report shows strong support for the issue from the business and philanthropic communities,’’ said Jared Kamrass, a spokesman for Citizens for Cincinnati Parks.

Many of the individual contributions came from a fund-raising event held in Hyde Park, Kamrass said. A second fund-raiser is being held in Westwood and the money raised from that will show up on the committee’s post-election campaign finance report.

Lawyer Donald Mooney, one of the organizers of Save Our Parks, the opposition committee, said the largest contribution to the committee was $1,000 from the Audubon Society of Ohio, which is based in Cincinnati.

The Citizens for Cincinnati Parks report shows that nearly $250,000 has been spent on TV advertising – all of it prominently featuring Mayor John Cranley, the driving force behind the park tax levy. The ads are being made by Chicago-based AL Media, a Democratic ad firm that has Cranley as a client.

“It sounds to me like this is simply an extension of the mayor’s campaign,’’ Mooney said.

Mooney said his committee is trying to get its message out on social media, in appearances at community council meetings, public debates and with yard signs.