After months of fraud tinged effort and at least 1.5 million dollars of sex shop, out-of-state pornography producer and strip club money spent by high-price Columbus political consulting firms, the effort to get the Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for an up-or-down vote has failed. The final valid signature rate for the effort hovered somewhere around the 28% mark, a dismal performance by any standard.
The signature drive began with a group of buxom young strippers dressed in matching tight pink t-shirts, called the Dancers for Democracy (dubbed the double D coalition by one wag) holding a press conference. At least one Ohio State Senator, Teresa Fedor, stood in solidarity with the strippers and spoke at the press conference. Fedor later demonstrated gross hypocrisy by feigning shock and outrage that strippers had performed at a Lucas County Democratic Party fundraiser. The Dancers for Democracy, in reality a front group for the strip club owners, quickly faded from the public eye when it became clear that the women were a public relations nightmare. The PR guys just couldn’t sell wives and girlfriends on the “right to lap dance” as a women’s issue. Attempts to make the drive a grass roots effort never caught on. The public knows that strip clubs are often the central point for crime activity in their neighborhoods, especially as gateways for prostitution and human trafficking, and didn’t want them to continue unregulated.
Contrast the anti-CDA signature drive with other true grass roots efforts. In 2004 the successful Marriage Protection Amendment drive delivered valid signatures at a rate well over 50% and cost a fraction of what the anti-CDA effort has cost (so far). The vast majority of signatures were collected by volunteers, with a relative few collected by paid petition passers in contrast to the anti-CDA effort which utilized mostly paid gatherers, some making as much as $3 per signature! In short, the group who led the effort to repeal the CDA, the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee), simply could not match the efforts of a highly motivated group of volunteers with the help and support of a few donation-funded grass roots social issue groups with a swarm of paid signature gatherers hired and coordinated by high-priced professional electioneering consultants and using fraudulent collection methods.
Having failed to spark a groundswell of support for unregulated sex businesses with the general public, it should have been clear to the Committee that, unless mass confusion could be created among voters (and make no mistake that this was part of the plan. The Committee made a $5 million media buy before the signature drive failed), Issue 1 would go down to a resounding defeat at the ballot box. This does not appear to be the case, at least at first glance. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch on Thursday, October 18, 2007 two lawsuits have been filed in a last-ditch effort to get Issue 1 to the ballot. But the Committee seems to be torn regarding their approach, and for good reason.
First, even if the case in the Ohio Supreme Court, requiring that all signatures with bad addresses and those not returned by the deadline to the Secretary of State’s office succeeds, the issue faces the probable ballot box drubbing mentioned above.
Second, and this is what really makes the attorneys for the Committee sweat bullets, is the fact that the governing federal circuit courts of the federal district courts that are hearing the Committe’s suit on the bill’s constitutionality have already approved more stringent regulations in this circuit as well as other circuits. Citizens For Community Values (CCV) has listed several such cases on their website. This option looks like a low-percentage bet as well but could tie up the law for up to 2 years.
So which way should the Committee go? Well, the federal lawsuit angle has the potential to tie the law up for the longest length of time, thus maximizing the profits to the clubs. The Ohio ballot box option appears, currently at least, to be the act of a sadistic equestrian necrophile- beating a dead horse. Follow the money. Chances are a token effort will be made in the ballot access but the real effort will on the federal suit.
The people, having proven to be an “unenlightened” lot, at least on the issue of unregulated stripping and sex businesses, cannot be trusted to understand what is good for them and for society. Therefore, at least as far as the club owners thinking goes, it’s time to flout the will of the people and go to the only remaining remedy, a group that has proven itself capable of seeing things the way the pornographers and sex businesses do from time to time. The federal judiciary. And so we see that having failed to stir the will of the people, the Committee must rely on arousing the will of a potential champion of their “rights.” From the will of the people to the will of the judiciary in one easy step.