Citizen Activist Comments on Ohio Dark Money Scandal

Ellen Greene Bush

Ohio Representative Larry Householder has been driven from his role as Speaker of the House following his arrest on racketeering charges. The FBI charges that Householder oversaw a $61 million scheme involving bribes and hidden campaign cash to bail out Ohio’s two cash-strapped nuclear power plants and return himself to power.

Ellen Greene Bush, along with fellow citizen activists with American Promise, had sought a meeting with Householder to press their case for getting big money out of politics.  

Quoted in The Columbus Dispatch,  “It just reeked of dark money,” Greene Bush said. “Of course nobody knew at the time who was behind it, (but) when this story broke, there really wasn’t any surprise to those of us in American Promise.”

The goal of American Promise  (a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to limiting money in politics) is to organize Americans to win the 28th Amendment to the Constitution to restore American democracy in which ‘We the People’—not big money, not corporations, not unions, not special interests—govern ourselves.

Through Ellen’s civic engagement and that of thousands of other concerned citizens around the country, she is optimistic about the prospects for a constitutional amendment to place reasonable limits on Big Money in politics. 

It will take two-thirds of the House and Senate to accomplish that, plus ratification by a similar percent of the states.  Thus far, 220 members of the House Representatives have co-sponsored a bill (HJR-2) to accomplish that, and 47 Senators have co-sponsored a companion bill (SJR-5).  Twenty states have approved non-binding resolutions thus far, over half the 38 states required to ratify an amendment.  American Promise’s goal is for the amendment to be passed by 2026.

Ellen Greene Bush, of Port Clinton, Ohio, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in nursing, has worked as a psychologist in a group practice for most of her career.  Having grown up living on the shores of Lake Erie, Ellen explained how devastated she was in 2014 when Toledo’s drinking water was declared to be contaminated.   Uncontrolled phosphate run-off from concentrated animal feeding operations led to dangerous algae levels in the lake.  She found that ordinary citizens have little influence in these matters and was spurred to become engaged with others who shared her concern.

Ellen described her chapter of American Promise in Ohio as consisting not just of meetings and socializing. They are action oriented.  As a non-partisan group, her chapter and others across the country are intent on writing letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and, most importantly, talking to their elected representatives. 

Listen to the Citizen Reformers podcast in which Ellen is joined by two other American Promise citizen activists in discussing how the Covid-19 pandemic response has been hurt by health-care industry political spending.


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