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Columbus leaders call Issue 7 a 'scam'

The issue would take $87 million dollars from the general fund of the Columbus city budget’s general fund to be used for what petitioners call clean energy efforts.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther calls Issue 7 one of the biggest scams in city history.

If the issue passes, $87 million would come out of the city’s general fund. 

According to the petition, that money would be overseen by the group ProEnergy and go toward creating an Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Fund and a Clean Energy Education and Training Fund. The petition also mentions an effort to support minority-owned businesses.

“The backers of this dark money issue don’t want you to know what it really is or who they are,” said Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin. “They use flowery language, talking about renewable energy, minority business.”

City leaders joined state and community leaders on Wednesday to denounce Issue 7, asking voters to reject it.

“Quite honestly the only people supporting it are the five folks that are trying to steal our tax dollars, that are trying to spend it on things they see fit without transparency, oversight and accountability,” Mayor Ginther said.

The local chapter of the NAACP stands against it, as does the Columbus Urban League and representatives from the faith community.

“This is disrespectful to the minority community, this is disrespectful to minority business owners who have already been struggling,” CUL President Stephanie Hightower said.

10TV attempted to reach all of the surviving petitioners listed on the official records. One is now deceased.

The only person able to be reached by phone was Tyrone Spence. The other numbers were either non-working or wrong numbers.

Spence confirmed his connection to Issue 7 but refused to answer any further questions. Several follow-up phone calls went directly to a Spanish recording.

The address listed for Christina Gonzalez was an empty house with a “sold” sign in the year.

Irene Gil Llamas was not at home but spoke with 10TV reporter Brittany Bailey through her Ring doorbell. She confirmed she was tied to Issue 7 but said she could not answer any more questions because she was at work.

A message left for the law firm representing the petitioners also was not returned.

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