Nearly three weeks ago, P.G. Sittenfeld called a press conference at the Statehouse to announce he would be launching a statewide initiative to amend the Ohio Constitution to specifically allow Ohio’s municipalities to regulate guns differently than under state law despite a state law in 2006 that moved guns out of the city’s home rule powers. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state law in 2010. The tactic of candidates promising to lead a statewide referendum campaign on an issue is not new. A candidate actually following through with it is.
Just last year, Governor Kasich threatened that if his own party-controlled legislature and the oil/gas industry weren’t willing to pass higher taxes, he’d take the issue to voters. It hasn’t happened.
Sittenfeld even claimed that the issue could be on the ballot by the November general election this year. However, a ballot issue must first be reviewed and approved by the Attorney General after the submission of 1,000 valid signatures before the remaining 305,591 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot. And all the signatures must be in July 6th. And it normally takes multiple tries to get the Attorney General’s approval (each one needing 1,000 signatures) before you can start to get the rest. In other words, Sittenfeld didn’t appear to have even started the process of doing anything to actually get his proposal on the ballot… for any election.
Sittenfeld admitted he hadn’t submitted any petition for the Attorney General to review yet, but promised it was coming in early March (coincidentally right around the time of the March primary.) Also missing from Sittenfeld’s press conference? Any evidence that the 2006 law has resulted in the increase in automatic weapons used in crimes. No single elected official other than Sittenfeld from the communities impacted by the 2006 law that endorsed his effort. Or even a petition for him to even symbolically sign for the cameras. There was no name announced for the committee, no website… no anything but a typed up proposal and a press release.
Before a ballot issue committee can accept ANY donations or spend ANY money (such as printing petitions, setting up a website, legal services for drafting or reviewing petition language), it must file a Designation of Treasurer with the Secretary of State’s office. In the three weeks since Sittenfeld announced his constitutional amendment ballot issue, the Secretary of State’s office shows no Designation of Treasurer for any campaign likely related to Sittenfeld’s proposal.
You cannot even find any mention of Sittenfeld’s proposal on his campaign website.
At the press conference, Sittenfeld was asked who would fund such a ballot initiative, he pointed out that his campaign had recently hired Cliff Schechter to specifically recruit national gun control groups, like Everytown for Gun Safety, to support the effort. But a few days later, Everytown for Gun Safety, publicly disavowed any support or even knowledge of Sittenfeld’s proposal. Schechter had been involved with that group during its initial formation. To date, Sittenfeld has offered no explanation why the very national gun groups he predicted would fund his ballot issue hadn’t even heard of it. Schecter’s social media profiles don’t even mention he works for Sittenfeld and he barely talks about the race at all, let alone Sittenfeld’s ballot issue.
Since then, there has been no further update from Sittenfeld on his constitutional amendment. As a city councilman, Sittenfeld has done nothing about gun violence despite the fact that it’s increased by 24% in Cincinnati in the past year. His own campaign recently leaked a polling memo that showed attacking Strickland on guns was the most effective way for Sittenfeld to defeat him. The obvious question here is whether Sittenfeld is sincere in anything he says or if he is simply campaigning via polling data.