January 12, 2016 •

Philadelphia Ethics Board Announces New Contribution Limits

The city Ethics Board released new contribution limits for city candidates on January 11. Candidates for city offices may accept up to $3,000 in a calendar year from an individual contributor, an increase from the previous limit of $2,900. Groups […]

Seal of PhiladelphiaThe city Ethics Board released new contribution limits for city candidates on January 11.

Candidates for city offices may accept up to $3,000 in a calendar year from an individual contributor, an increase from the previous limit of $2,900. Groups and businesses may contribute up to $11,900 to a candidate per year, an increase of $400.

Contribution limits are adjusted every four years based on the consumer price index.

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December 22, 2015 •

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Plan Rollout of Lobbyist Reform Bills

Continuing a recent trend, Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a series of bills aimed at making lobbyist activity more transparent. The changes include broadening the defintion of a lobbyist, increasing the fine for violations of the lobbying law, and prohibiting […]

Pennsylvania State SealContinuing a recent trend, Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a series of bills aimed at making lobbyist activity more transparent. The changes include broadening the defintion of a lobbyist, increasing the fine for violations of the lobbying law, and prohibiting a lobbyist from working on a political campaign.

State Sen. Scott Wagner will lead the charge by introducing two of the six bills, including one to require lobbyists to report any item of value given to a legislator. The senators believe there is wide support for the proposed changes.

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November 16, 2015 •

Pennsylvania Cracking Down on Those Failing to Report Lobbying Expenses

The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission is increasing its enforcement efforts against those who fail to report lobbying expenditures. This year, 31 groups were cited for failing to file expense reports with fines totaling $90,300. In comparison, last year, only 15 citations […]

Pennsylvania State SealThe Pennsylvania Ethics Commission is increasing its enforcement efforts against those who fail to report lobbying expenditures. This year, 31 groups were cited for failing to file expense reports with fines totaling $90,300. In comparison, last year, only 15 citations were issued with fines reaching $44,000.

At the same time, the General Assembly is working on legislation to increase the penalty for noncompliance. House Bill 1348’s proposed increase is from $50 per day to a tiered system where the fine increases the later the report becomes. The bill passed the House unanimously in October and is awaiting action in the Senate.

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October 21, 2015 •

Pittsburgh City Council Passes Campaign Finance Ordinance

Pittsburgh City Council has passed an ordinance to overhaul city campaign finance rules. Introduced by Councilman Dan Gilman in September, the bill raises contribution limits to those imposed by the Federal Election Commission for federal elections, eliminates an exemption voiding […]

Pittsburgh City-County BuildingPittsburgh City Council has passed an ordinance to overhaul city campaign finance rules. Introduced by Councilman Dan Gilman in September, the bill raises contribution limits to those imposed by the Federal Election Commission for federal elections, eliminates an exemption voiding limits if a candidate gives more than $50,000 to his or her own campaign, and removes a loophole allowing candidates to accept donations for the primary and general elections at the same time.

The ordinance will take effect on November 4, 2015, the day after election day.

Photo of the Pittsburgh City-County Building by Leepaxton at Wikimedia Commons.

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October 8, 2015 •

Pennsylvania House Votes to Increase Penalty for Lobbying Act Violations

The Pennsylvania House unanimously approved a bill to increase the penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The bill places the maximum penalty at $4,000, up from $2,000, and incrementally increases the penalty for negligent failure to register or report […]

Pennsylvania State CapitolThe Pennsylvania House unanimously approved a bill to increase the penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The bill places the maximum penalty at $4,000, up from $2,000, and incrementally increases the penalty for negligent failure to register or report based on the number of days late.

In an attempt to increase transparency, the bill further requires all filings to be posted online within seven days. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Photo of the Pennsylvania State Capitol by Michael180 on Wikimedia Commons.

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October 5, 2015 •

Additional Charge Mounted Against Pennsylvania Attorney General

Prosecutors charged Attorney General Kathleen Kane with an additional perjury charge for lying to a grand jury about an oath of secrecy she took in 2013. Kane was charged in August with conspiracy and official oppression perjury for leaking secret […]

pennsylvaniaProsecutors charged Attorney General Kathleen Kane with an additional perjury charge for lying to a grand jury about an oath of secrecy she took in 2013. Kane was charged in August with conspiracy and official oppression perjury for leaking secret grand jury materials to a Philadelphia newspaper in order to embarrass a political enemy.

Last month, the state’s Supreme Court ordered the temporary suspension of Kane’s law license, possibly leading to efforts to remove her from office. Kane denies any wrongdoing and stated she will not resign.

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October 5, 2015 •

Pittsburgh Councilman Introduces Legislation to Overhaul Campaign Finance, Ethics Laws

Councilman Dan Gilman introduced a bill to rewrite the city’s campaign finance ordinance. The bill would bring the city’s contribution limits in line with the federal limits, prohibit the transfer of funds from one PAC to another above the stated […]

Pittsburgh City-County BuildingCouncilman Dan Gilman introduced a bill to rewrite the city’s campaign finance ordinance. The bill would bring the city’s contribution limits in line with the federal limits, prohibit the transfer of funds from one PAC to another above the stated limit, and make contribution stacking, where a candidate accepts a contribution for a special election and primary election during the same election cycle, illegal.

The bill also eliminates the “millionaire” exception in current law, whereby contribution limits do not apply if a candidate spends more than $50,000 per election cycle on his or her own campaign.

Gilman is also proposing a newly formed ethics board to replace the current one and a new website to compile information on the activities of government entities.

Photo of the Pittsburgh City-County Building by Leepaxton at Wikimedia Commons.

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July 29, 2015 •

Philadelphia Congressman Indicted on Political Corruption Charges

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of Rep. Chaka Fattah on several charges including bribery; conspiracy to commit wire, honest services, bank, and mail fraud; and money laundering. The Philadelphia congressman is accused of misappropriating federal grant money, […]

Rep. Chaka FattahThe U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of Rep. Chaka Fattah on several charges including bribery; conspiracy to commit wire, honest services, bank, and mail fraud; and money laundering. The Philadelphia congressman is accused of misappropriating federal grant money, arranging a federal grant in lieu of a payment to a political consultant, and other acts such as using the money to pay off his son’s student loans.

The indictment also includes four members of Rep. Fattah’s campaign and congressional staffs.

The congressman has served 11 terms and is the ranking member on the Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee.

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May 13, 2015 •

Philadelphia City Council Seeks Greater Transparency from Super PACs

City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a measure to increase the transparency of money donated to city elections. With the mayoral race hitting its stride, independent expenditure PACs are making their presence known, donating millions to support their candidate of […]

Seal of PhiladelphiaCity Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a measure to increase the transparency of money donated to city elections. With the mayoral race hitting its stride, independent expenditure PACs are making their presence known, donating millions to support their candidate of choice.

The bill, while unable to limit these contributions, seeks to increase disclosure of the source of PAC funds by moving the first report from 11 days before a primary election to six weeks before the primary and every two weeks thereafter. This requirement would apply to donations of $5,000 or more on communications mentioning a candidate in any way.

Though the bill was introduced too late to apply to the primary on May 19, Clarke is hoping the changes will be in effect prior to the general election in November.

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February 5, 2015 •

Facing Federal Charges, Pennsylvania Treasurer Steps Down

Rob McCord, Pennsylvania’s state treasurer, has resigned amid a federal investigation. After serving for six years in the elected position, McCord announced plans to plead guilty to charges of using his office to threaten potential campaign donors hoping to continue […]

Robert_McCordRob McCord, Pennsylvania’s state treasurer, has resigned amid a federal investigation.

After serving for six years in the elected position, McCord announced plans to plead guilty to charges of using his office to threaten potential campaign donors hoping to continue doing business with the commonwealth. It is unknown exactly what the charges will be, as is whether or not McCord will face jail time.

Gov. Tom Wolf will now nominate someone to serve the remaining two years of McCord’s term.

Photo of Rob McCord by Ruhrfisch on Wikimedia Commons.

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January 21, 2015 •

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Two Executive Orders Promoting Ethics Reform

As promised, Gov. Tom Wolf has signed two executive orders to bring about ethics reform. The first order bans all employees, appointees, and officials of the executive branch from soliciting or accepting gifts from individuals attempting to influence decisions. The […]

Gov. TomWolfAs promised, Gov. Tom Wolf has signed two executive orders to bring about ethics reform. The first order bans all employees, appointees, and officials of the executive branch from soliciting or accepting gifts from individuals attempting to influence decisions.

The second creates a prohibition on no-bid contracts to law firms, requiring competitive bidding procedures be used for all legal services contracts.

Gov. Wolf signed the orders immediately following his inauguration address. Both executive orders are effective immediately.

Photo of Gov. Tom Wolf by Bruestle2 on Wikimedia Commons.

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November 17, 2014 •

Pennsylvania Governor-Elect Wolf Bans Gifts to Transition Team

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, fresh off of a victorious first campaign for public office, is already taking steps to ensure the ethical conduct of his administration. Wolf is requiring members of his transition team to sign a code of conduct including […]

Gov-elect Tom WolfGov.-elect Tom Wolf, fresh off of a victorious first campaign for public office, is already taking steps to ensure the ethical conduct of his administration.

Wolf is requiring members of his transition team to sign a code of conduct including a ban on accepting gifts, one he plans to extend to the entire executive branch upon taking office.

The pledge also includes a requirement to disclose current and future conflicts of interest and a promise to not use their position for personal gain.

Photo of Gov.-elect Tom Wolf by Bruestle2 on Wikimedia Commons.

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October 24, 2014 •

Pennsylvania Pay-to-Play Law Signed by Governor

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a bill to curtail pay-to-play politics in state procurement contracts. House Bill 201 prohibits individuals who were employed by an offeror within the previous two years from participating in the evaluation of proposals. The new […]

Tom Corbett signature.Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a bill to curtail pay-to-play politics in state procurement contracts. House Bill 201 prohibits individuals who were employed by an offeror within the previous two years from participating in the evaluation of proposals.

The new law will prevent recently hired government workers from rewarding their former employers with large state contracts.

This provision will go into effect on December 20.

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October 23, 2014 •

Pennsylvania Commission Approves Increase of Lobbyist Registration Fee

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved an increase of the state’s biennial lobbyist registration fee from $200 to $300. The additional revenue will help cover the Department of State’s costs of maintaining the lobbyist registration and disclosure database. The […]

pennsylvaniaThe Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved an increase of the state’s biennial lobbyist registration fee from $200 to $300. The additional revenue will help cover the Department of State’s costs of maintaining the lobbyist registration and disclosure database.

The Department of State unsuccessfully sought increases on two prior occasions, to $700 and $400 every two years, but the IRRC believed this latest proposal was more reasonable.

The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General must approve the committee’s decision before it can be implemented for the 2015-2016 legislative session.

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