Ohio Ethics Commission seeks harsher penalties for giving unlawful gifts to lawmakers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The Ohio Ethics Commission is asking state lawmakers to beef up penalties for people convicted of illegally giving money or gifts to legislators or public agency leaders.

The allowable amount a donor can give a lawmaker or other leader is between $75 to $500 per year depending on who is getting the gift and how it is given. Exceeding that amount is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1000 fine. But Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick says he’s asking lawmakers to increase that penalty.

“We are asking the General Assembly to enhance that to include barring folks, prohibiting them from having public contracts for five years and also giving the courts the authority to order fines that would be equal to the amount of any unlawful payments that were made,” Mick says.

To be clear, this doesn’t increase penalties for lawmakers who accept unlawful gifts – only donors who give them.

For more information on Ohio’s current laws for gifts, click here

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