AKRON, Ohio — Ohio will be the testing ground for a pilot project by a Maine-based institute to promote fair campaign practices.
The Project on Campaign Conduct was started by The Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine, and is funded by an $800,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia.
The goal is to reduce negative campaigning and attack advertising.
Beginning this year, the Project on Campaign Conduct will operate in Ohio and Washington to test the feasibility of a nationwide push for more ethical campaigning in the presidential election in 2000.
“We’re seeking to create a social movement, and Ohio is the perfect place to begin,” national project director Brad Rourke told the Akron Beacon Journal in an interview published Friday.
“Our goal is to help candidates avoid the kind of attack-based, slash-and-burn campaigning that voters increasingly find offensive.”
Joining Global Ethics in Ohio will be the League of Women Voters of Ohio; the Council for Ethics in Economics; The Kettering Foundation; Ohio Citizens Action; the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron; and the Citizens League of Greater Cleveland.
Timothy Smucker, chairman of the J.M. Smucker Co. in Orrville and a member of the project’s advisory board, said it should help voters regain control of the political process.
“Politicians throughout the country bemoan the fact that voter apathy is at an all-time high,” Smucker said.
The idea is to have politicians sign a voluntary code of campaign conduct, according to John Green, director of the Bliss Institute. Another element would be to build public awareness about the candidate pledges.