April 3, 2013 •
Judge tosses city limits due to a former candidate’s contribution to himself
The contributions limits in the upcoming Pittsburgh mayoral election have been removed by the courts. Judge Joseph James voided the city’s contribution limits because of one candidate’s decision to contribute his own money to his campaign.
Under city law, candidates may only accept $2,000 from individuals and $4,000 from PACs per covered election. However, if a candidate decides to use personal resources in excess of $50,000 for his or her campaign, then the contribution limitations are thrown out for all candidates in that specific race.
In this situation, Councilman Bill Peduto requested an injunction barring former state Auditor General Jack Wagner from using nearly $300,000 in contributions collected during previous campaigns. The judge ruled the use of the previous campaign funds to be a contribution, which would have exceeded the city’s contribution limits.
Wagner’s lawyers then turned their attention to Michael Lamb, the city controller who withdrew from the race earlier in the week. Lamb had given his campaign $53,000 of his own money, which voided the contribution limits and allowed Wagner to use the $300,000 in question. Lamb attempted to give $3,000 from the campaign back to himself in order to undo the contribution, but the judge ruled that the refund did not repair the breach.
The primary election for the mayoral office takes place on May 21, 2013 and the general election on November 5, 2013.
Photo of downtown Pittsburgh by Theeditor93 on Wikipedia.
February 11, 2013 •
Proposal in response to exposure of law’s loophole
Philadelphia Councilman James Kenney has proposed an amendment to the city’s contribution limits to close a loophole in the law. Currently, individuals may not contribute more than $2,900 per year to a candidate and PACs are limited to $11,500 per year to a candidate.
It was recently uncovered by NewsWorks, through campaign finance reports for 2012, that Councilman Bill Green received $35,000 in contributions from one person. This would appear to violate the city’s contribution limits. However, it is perfectly legal under the current law.
According to the city’s Board of Ethics director, Shane Creamer, a person could accept as much money as they wanted until they became an official candidate. The funds would have to be kept separate and it would be difficult to legally do, but it is not illegal.
Kenny’s proposed amendment would help to shut this loophole down. Under the proposed ordinance, the contribution limits would include incumbents, which the proposed ordinance defines as any individual who currently holds elective city office. With this new law in effect, Green’s actions in accepting the large contributions would have been illegal.
January 21, 2013 •
Bill will prohibit lottery operators from contributing
With Pennsylvania poised to outsource control of the state lottery, Representative Brandon Neuman plans to ensure political contributions do not muddy the waters. Neuman has announced plans to introduce legislation making it illegal for any company running the state lottery to make campaign contributions to elected officials and political candidates.
Corporate contributions are already banned in the commonwealth, but Neuman sees this prohibition extending to anyone involved in making profits from the lottery’s operation. Neuman is worried about the integrity of the contract process and said “We don’t even want the perception of doing things because of campaign donations.”
The lottery deal is still being reviewed and must ultimately be approved by the attorney general.
January 18, 2013 •
Voters in two districts will elect new representatives
The state has announced that two special elections will be held on May 21 to replace two outgoing state representatives. In district 42, voters will be looking for Matt Smith’s replacement after he ran and won for both a seat in the state house and state senate.
The voters in district 95 will be replacing Eugene DePasquale, who left his position to become the state’s auditor general.
Primary elections will not be held for either of these seats, as the parties will be choosing their nominees.
May 24, 2012 •
An investigation, charges, fines, and a house arrest in today’s ethics articles.
Federal: “Group wants investigation of lobby shop after Owens’s Taiwan trip” by Mike Zapler in Politico.
District of Columbia: “Second Gray aide charged in campaign probe” by Tom Howell, Jr. in The Washington Times.
Missouri: “Already charged by feds, former Gov. Wilson fined by ethics cops, too” by Jake Wagman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Pennsylvania: “Veon’s ex-aide gets house arrest” by Brad Bumsted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
May 2, 2012 •
Today we have items from eight states:
Alaska: “Redistricting map solutions elusive as court battle looms” by Richard Mauer in the Anchorage Daily News.
Kansas: “Kansas Senate OKs redistricting plan” by Brad Cooper in the Kansas City Star.
Kentucky: “Kentucky Supreme Court cites redistricting law as unconstitutional” by Franklin Clark in the Cadiz Record.
Mississippi: “Mississippi Senate unveils its redistricting map” by The Associated Press in the Clarion Ledger.
New Hampshire: “House redistricting plan faces more legal challenges” by Garry Rayno in the Union Leader.
Pennsylvania: “Redistricting panel to receive input on new Pa. maps” by Ali Lanyon (Associated Press) on WHTM.
South Carolina: “Supreme Court considering fate of primary candidates” by Gina Smith in The State.
South Carolina: “SC justices consider fate of dozens of candidates” by Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) in the Spartanburg Herald Journal.
Vermont: “Vt. lawmakers finish redistricting” on NECN.com.
January 23, 2012 •
Increases Made to Reflect Changes in C.P.I.
The board of ethics has released new campaign contribution limits adjusted for changes in the cost of living.
The new limits for individual contributions have been raised from $2,600 to $2,900 and for political committees or businesses from $10,600 to $11,500.
When the campaign finance law was passed in 2008, a provision was included to increase the maximum contribution every four years based upon the board’s review of the consumer price index.
Photo of Philadelphia by Parent5446 on Wikipedia.