COLUMBUS, Ohio — Both sides in the fall ballot fight over Ohio's contentious collective bargaining law spent almost $41 million combined to sway voters, outpacing the cost of last year's hard-fought race for governor.
Campaign finance reports filed Friday with the state show that union-backed We Are Ohio raised almost $30 million and spent roughly $29 million in its successful effort to defeat the law, which limited public employee unions' bargaining rights. The group also netted more than $12 million in total in-kind contributions.
Defenders of the law were far outspent and outraised.
Republican-backed Building a Better Ohio reported spending more than $11 million through its political action committee. The coalition of business groups and others also trailed the law's opponents in fundraising — bringing in about $11 million in donations and less than $570,000 in in-kind gifts.
In total, the groups' spending exceeded the almost $34 million spent in gubernatorial campaign in 2010.
Ohioans were barraged with TV ads, mailers and sparring in the press during the months leading up to the November vote on whether the union law should be kept or tossed out. The bill would have restricted the bargaining abilities of more than 350,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other unionized public employees around the state.
Final results of last month's election released on Friday show voters rejected the new law 62 percent to 38 percent.
Gov. John Kasich, a first-term Republican, and other supporters had promoted the overhaul as a means for city officials, school superintendents and others to better control their costs and keep workers on the job during a time of tight budgets.
Opponents had argued the collective bargaining restrictions were an unfair attack on public employee unions that had worked cooperatively with their government employers for decades. They also accused lawmakers of exploiting a state budget crisis to pass an unpopular measure.
Backers of the bill had help from outside interest groups, who spent independently to try to keep the collective bargaining restrictions in place.
Filings submitted ahead of Friday's afternoon deadline show Virginia-based Alliance for America's Future spent more than $1.7 million on mailings in support of the law. Conservative group Citizens United spent $115,000 on email and television advertising, according to independent expenditure reports filed this month with the Ohio's top election official.
Labor groups representing police, firefighters and others also made such independent expenditures in their efforts to see the law rejected. The International Association of Fire Fighters spent at least $419,000 on Internet ads, T-shirts and other campaign expenses.
Friday's reports detailed what campaigns spent and raised in the final weeks leading up to the election and shortly thereafter.
Unions were among We Are Ohio's top donors giving additional last-minute cash ahead of Election Day.
Ohio's largest state employee union — the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association — gave $1.2 million at the end of October. National Education Association in Washington contributed about $1.6 million, while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also Washington-based, gave $500,000.
The Building a Better Ohio coalition is not required to identify its contributors because of its status as a nonprofit corporation, whereas We Are Ohio is a political action committee that by state law had to publicly disclose its spending, donors and their contributions.
The law's backers voluntarily provided a list of donors before Election Day and did so again on Friday. Neither list reveals how much each contributor gave — or other identifying information, such as address and occupation.
Donors on both lists include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Make Ohio Great, a project of the Republican Governors Association. Others who have donated to Building a Better Ohio include the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Associated Building & Contractors, a coalition of nonunion construction interests.
AP Statehouse Correspondent Julie Carr Smyth contributed to this report.