As we pointed out yesterday, the new pro-Kasich, non-profit group One Ohio United was actually organized by Kasich campaign staff- specifically his 26 year old campaign blogger Kevin Bingle – the month after he was elected Governor.
The receipt for the articles of incorporation document that was filed with the Secretary of State’s office was mailed to the same address listed for Kevin Bingle on Kasich’s payroll records – which we assume to be Kevin’s home address.
Based on the most recent campaign finance data available, Kevin was still being paid by the campaign as of December when he registered these documents. And he was being reimbursed by the transition committee as late as January. And judging by the ongoing updates to Kasich’s campaign blog, and Kevin’s constant tweets about Kasich-related activity, we assume he’s still being paid by the Kasich campaign to maintain their website.
So there seems to be no doubt that Kasich’s campaign was directly involved with setting up One Ohio United. But what about now?
According to Kasich spokesperson Connie Wehrkamp, “The governor’s not involved with the group’s efforts but certainly welcomes their support.”
Ok. Sure. That’s what they must to say.
As unlikely as it seems that Kasich’s people aren’t in some way still involved with this group – a group that they not only founded but whose message seems to be built completely around Kasich’s talking points – as unlikely as that seems, they absolutely have to say they aren’t involved. Otherwise they’d be breaking the law.
According to the Alliance for Justice, the recent Citizens United case now allows for-profit and non-profit 501(c)(4) corporations to directly advocate for candidates, but it doesn’t change the rules about coordinating with campaigns: “The prohibition on … coordinated communications remain intact.”
This means that a 501(c)(4) group like One Ohio United may now push for legislation and directly support a candidate using corporate donations, but it is still illegal for the group to coordinate its message with the candidate’s campaign.
The Governor’s office can (and must) claim they aren’t involved but the fact that One Ohio United’s message IS Kasich’s message makes the whole thing seems very suspicious. And the fact that One Ohio United was created by a Kasich staffer while he was working on Kasich’s campaign makes it seem pretty damn likely.