Friday, August 3, 2018

Dave Regan Confronts Hurdles in Ohio Ballot Initiative Effort

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan recently submitted signatures to try to put an initiative targeting kidney dialysis companies on Ohio's November ballot... but he came up 10,000 short of the 306,000 needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

That left Regan with just 10 days to collect 10,000 valid signatures before a state election deadline. (Jo Ingles, “Dialysis Clinic Regulation Ballot Issue Faces More Hurdles,” WKSU, July 27, 2018.)

Yesterday, an SEIU spokesperson announced that the campaign had submitted additional signatures that should qualify the measure for the ballot. The signatures must now be validated by state officials.

How much is Regan’s Ohio ballot-initiative project costing?

Beaucoup dinero.

As of July 31, Regan’s campaign had spent more than $4.1 million, according to records posted by the Ohio Secretary of State. (SEIU-UHW’s Political Action Committee is called “Ohioans for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection”).

In an interesting development, campaign finance disclosure reports indicate that SEIU International gave $2.5 million to the campaign. Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW has “loaned” the campaign more than $1.7 million. It’s unclear if SEIU-UHW will ever be repaid.

Why is DC-based SEIU International contributing to the campaign?

After all, Regan has warred with SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. It’s unclear what sort of internal politics lie behind this support.

Where has Regan spent the $4.1 million?

Most of the money has gone to a California signature-gathering firm that hires temporary workers to collect voters’ signatures. “In recent weeks we have seen hundreds of paid circulators,” said opponents of the measure, “many of them from out of state, gathering signatures on petitions.”

Meanwhile, Regan spent another chunk of change on polling and public-relations firms. Still other money has gone to the law firm of Regan’s personal attorney, Michael Hunter.

In June, campaign spending leaped skywards when the campaign paid more than $3.1 million to the signature-gathering firm headed by Angelo Paparella, according to disclosure records.

In yet another hurdle, Regan now faces a lawsuit over the ballot measure, which is designed to amend Ohio’s Constitution. 

The lawsuit was filed by the Ohio Renal Association, which represents the state’s 326 dialysis clinics. It seeks to block the measure from appearing on the November ballot. Of course, Regan will now have to spend gobs more money on lawyers to try to beat back the legal challenge.

So… the price tag for Regan’s ballot-initiative strategy keeps growing by the minute.

These new reports help us understand just how much money Regan is pouring into his 2018 ballot-initiative gamble, even though it doesn’t appear to be headed towards any resolution that would produce an organizing agreement between the dialysis industry and SEIU-UHW.

Stay tuned.