Never let a political campaign serve as a fact-checker, especially one that lacks any transparency about who is funding it.

And especially when it apparently is so laughably wrong because what they claim is “truth” about a piece of legislation is refuted… by the same organization responsible for drafting the legislation at issue.

Today, the Ohio Ballot Board accepted the official arguments for/against the issues on the Statewide ballot.  For the most part, the Ballot Board has no control over the arguments.  So Jason Mauk, the spokesman for the “Building a Better Ohio” campaign rushed a press release claiming that the “We Are Ohio” campaign’s arguments were so full of lies he couldn’t list them all and what an outrage that SB 5 opponents could force taxpayers to fund such “lies.”

Mauk actually claimed that there were so many lies in the “We Are Ohio” statement, he could only highlight the worse of the worse.  The Conserva-Tweets were quick to parrot Mauk’s press release verbatim and uncritically.  The only problem is that it was Mauk who lied.

First, let’s start with one of the largest “whoppers” of Mauk’s press release:

“The Ohio Ballot Board even took the extra step of adding a disclaimer due to concerns about the accuracy of the campaign’s submitted argument.”

Here’s what the renowned friend of labor and SB 5 opponent the Columbus Dispatch reported about the disclaimer:

The board, at the request of Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, agreed to add a disclaimer to all arguments that the board has not validated any claims made. (emphasis added.)

In other words, the Building a Better Ohio also is getting this “extra step” disclaimer.  It is totally false that the Ohio Ballot Board added a disclaimer specifically because of the “We Are Ohio” campaign.  Other media reports confirm… there was nothing about  We Are Ohio’s statement that triggered the decision to have a disclaimer.

But then it gets worse:

We Are Ohio Ballot Argument:

  • Issue 2 puts all our families’ safety at risk – making it harder for emergency responders, police and firefighters to negotiate for critical safety equipment and training that protects us all.

Truth:

  • Counter to blatant misinformation being spread by police and fire unions, state lawmakers took extra steps to clarify in the legislation that “equipment issues directly related to personal safety are subject to collective bargaining.” (ORC 4117.08(F))

While it’s true that SB 5 was eventually amended (at the F.O.P.’s urging even though supposedly nobody who opposed SB 5 offered any amendments) to remove language that would deny public safety unions to bargain for safety equipment, conservative State Senator Tim Grendell argued at the time, collective bargaining is turned in to “collective begging” as SB 5 removes the ability of labor disputes being resolved by a neutral third-party like an arbitrator and instead allows the government (i.e.-employer) to decide on disputes.  Guaranteeing that management always win = making it harder for emergency responders, police, and firefighters to negotiate.

Also, note that Building a Better Ohio didn’t even address the training issue.  That’s because SB 5 totally makes it impossible for public safety forces to bargain regarding training.

We Are Ohio Ballot Argument:

  • Issue 2 … makes it illegal for nurses, hospital and clinic workers to demand reasonable safe staffing levels – so nurses will juggle more patients while their salaries and benefits are cut.

Truth:

  • Issue 2 allows government employees to “bargain collectively with their public employers to determine wages, hours, terms and other conditions of employment and the continuation, modification, or deletion of an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement, and enter into collective bargaining agreements.” (ORC 4117.03(A)(4))
  • Issue 2 does not cut salaries or benefits.

The Legislative Service Commission is a non-partisan office of the General Assembly.  They actually draft legislation at the direction of legislators and provide analysis of the bills (which they are knowledgeable about because, again, they drafted it.)

Here’s what the LSC’s final analysis of SB 5 says on page 17 is a subject Senate Bill 5 renders as inappropriate for a collective bargain agreement (i.e.-it’s verboten):

“The number of employees required to be on duty or employed in any
department, division, or facility of a public employer.”

LSC also notes that SB 5:

“Removes continuation, modification, or deletion of an existing collective bargaining agreement from the subject of collective bargaining.”

So Mauk is wrong and wronger.

SB 5 also prohibits employees to bargain for health insurance benefits beyond how much they pay (with a floor of 15% employee contribution.)  I’d argue pension pickups is a benefit… which Issue 2 bans.  If Issue 2 won’t cut salaries and benefits, then where does its promised savings come from?  Mauk is lying.

We Are Ohio Ballot Argument:

  • It’s not Ohio values to let firefighters, police and teachers lose their rights and see wages and benefits gutted, while insiders, politicians and people at the top sacrifice nothing.

Truth:

  • Issue 2 does nothing to “gut” wages and benefits.  It simply and fairly asks government employees to pay at least 15 percent of their taxpayer-funded health care premium and to make a 10 percent personal contribution toward their generous taxpayer-funded pension benefit.  Salary scales are not set by Issue 2, although automatic pay raises would be eliminated in favor of rewarding employees based, in part, on performance.

Again, there can be no savings in this bill without a change in benefits and salaries.  The rest is a classic non sequitur  response.   Again, according to the non-partisan LSC’s final analysis on SB 5 (Issue 2) on pages 11-14, the bill totally eliminates the right of some firefighters, law enforcement officers, teachers, and professors from the collective bargaining at all who can engage in collective bargaining under the current law. 

Kasich’s budget does not call on elected officials or the top people in his Administration to sacrifice anything.  His Cabinet officials can freely continue to engage in “double dipping” under Issue 2.  It is totally fair and accurate to point out that Kasich’s agenda calls on “sacrifices” by firefighters, police, and teachers while he has not called for sacrifices from the top of his organization chart and his Rolodex.  Kasich’s budget gave tax cuts to the top economic earners, no tax cuts to the middle class or the working class, but slashed government programs they rely on like public education.

Mauk is an unrepentant liar.  He’s on leave to work on the campaign from his State job as Communication Director of the Senate Republican Caucus (name a private employer who will grant a leave of absence and keep your job open to work for a political campaign… how did he get such benefits?).  Mauk was behind the vile smear that SB 5 protestors had defecated and defaced the Statehouse during protests, which turned out to be the likely act of a homeless person in the former and the act of chalk in the latter.

Chalk

Mauk can’t tell the truth about Issue 2 because that’s not what he paid to do.

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