A liberal think tank former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D.) helped found with campaign money accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from labor unions in its first four years. 

Between 2011 and 2014, Innovation Ohio, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, received $635,000 from labor unions. Nearly half of the contributions came from two unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which benefited from Strickland’s use of executive orders that expanded public sector collective bargaining during his time as governor. 

The think tank also received nearly $117,000 from a union-funded coalition, We Are Ohio, which fought for the repeal of collective bargaining reforms brought about by a bill in the state. 

Before he helped start Innovation Ohio, Strickland pursued policies sought by unions during his time as governor from 2007 to 2011. He signed executive orders allowing independent home healthcare providers and independent childcare workers to join unions. The order allowed the local AFSCME and SEIU to collect millions from childcare workers and healthcare providers, respectively, the former collecting about $2.1 million in one year. 

Strickland, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, helped former staffers launch Innovation Ohio after his failed reelection bid in 2010 with a transfer of just under $160,000 in funds from his campaign account to the think tank. 

His former deputy chief of staff for policy, Janetta King, served as president and CEO of the think thank and its companion 501(c)(3), the Innovation Ohio Education Fund, from 2011 to 2013. All of the organization’s officers were former Strickland aides during that two-year period.

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