- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Republicans in each of Ohio’s legislative chambers spent more in direct donations to candidates and other causes in 2014 than the state Democratic party spent on all its candidates combined, according to a new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

The Washington, D.C.-based campaign finance group’s report released Wednesday finds direct donations of $3.17 million by the Ohio House GOP’s campaign committee, $3.12 million for the Ohio Senate’s GOP campaign committee and $3.1 million for the Ohio Democratic Party. The figures include money given to candidates, parties and outside groups.

The figures came in a race that Democrats lost badly across the board, allowing incumbent Republicans to retain full control of statewide offices and the Statehouse. Republicans held onto strong majorities in both the state Senate and the state House, where the GOP gained five seats, including one held by the state Democratic chairman.

The Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee ranked as the 50th largest direct donor nationally, according to the analysis. It gave more direct donations than almost any other legislative caucus’ campaign committee.

The Center for Public Integrity analysis placed the Ohio Republican Party at the top of Ohio’s direct donor list at more than $9 million. The total placed the powerful party 12th among direct donations nationally.

Rounding out Ohio’s top 5 was the campaign committee of Republican Gov. John Kasich, who gave almost $1.8 million in direct donations, all to the state GOP. Kasich’s well-funded campaign didn’t need all its resources after his Democratic challenger, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, saw his campaign fizzle amid campaign missteps and negative revelations, including the fact he had lacked a permanent driver’s license for a decade.

Direct donation figures calculated by the center don’t count spending on a candidate’s own race - for example, money spent on TV ads or mailings. Rather, the study looked at donations to candidates and groups who then use that money for such spending.

The analysis didn’t account for independent spending in the governor’s race or donations tied to federal races. Nationally, the Republican Governors Association, which ran ads for Kasich, and its Democratic counterpart were the dominant players in making donations to state-level elections in 2014. The RGA donated $68 million, the DGA just under $32 million.

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