March 21, 2014 •
Philadelphia passed ethics legislation providing a dollar limit on gifts during its March 20 meeting. The legislation prohibits all city officers and employees from receiving gifts worth more than $99 in a calendar year from any donor, and bans all […]
Philadelphia passed ethics legislation providing a dollar limit on gifts during its March 20 meeting. The legislation prohibits all city officers and employees from receiving gifts worth more than $99 in a calendar year from any donor, and bans all cash gifts.
A number of exceptions are provided, including food and beverage at meetings and non-ticketed receptions.
The bill is expected to be signed by Mayor Nutter. Board of Ethics Executive Director Shane Creamer said the Board will begin working on new gift regulations once the bill is signed.
February 25, 2014 •
A proposed ordinance setting a dollar limit for gifts has advanced out of committee. On February 24, the City Council’s Committee on Law and Government voted to submit the bill for Council action. The proposed ordinance prohibits gifts exceeding $99 […]
A proposed ordinance setting a dollar limit for gifts has advanced out of committee. On February 24, the City Council’s Committee on Law and Government voted to submit the bill for Council action.
The proposed ordinance prohibits gifts exceeding $99 per calendar year to any city officials or employees, and bans all cash gifts.
The ordinance could pass as early as next week.
January 31, 2014 •
Two proposals in Philadelphia could finally establish a dollar limit on gifts to city employees. The city’s Board of Ethics again revised its proposed gift limit to $50 with an outright ban on cash gifts. The initial proposals allowed for […]
Two proposals in Philadelphia could finally establish a dollar limit on gifts to city employees. The city’s Board of Ethics again revised its proposed gift limit to $50 with an outright ban on cash gifts.
The initial proposals allowed for some measure of cash gifts based on interpretation of city law allowing some cash gifts, enraging ethics watchdogs. After a reinterpretation by the city law department allowing the Board to ban cash gifts, the ban was included in the latest proposal. A final vote on the gift regulation is expected at the Board’s February 19 meeting.
The Philadelphia City Council is also considering a gift measure, allowing city officials and employees to accept gifts up to $99. The Council’s proposal also bans all cash gifts.
If the Council passes the gift law, the Board of Ethics will need to restart work on its gift regulation, as it can only pass regulations interpreting city law and may not impose a stricter limit than established by statute. Either way, the city appears to be on track in providing much needed clarification of its gift law.
December 20, 2013 •
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics staff has released a revised gift proposal following claims its initial proposed limits were too lax. The new suggested limits are a ban on gifts of more than $100, with a limit of $25 on […]
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics staff has released a revised gift proposal following claims its initial proposed limits were too lax. The new suggested limits are a ban on gifts of more than $100, with a limit of $25 on cash gifts, per calendar year from any source not a family member of the recipient. The initial limits proposed were $200 per year, with a cap of $50 for cash gifts, resulting in outcry from watchdogs.
The new proposed limits were greeted with skepticism, however, because the provision allowing for cash gifts remained. Executive Director Shane Creamer insisted the Board cannot ban cash gifts altogether because the city code permits cash gifts, prompting the Board to decide on formally requesting the City Council to consider amending the code.
The suggested limits could drop yet again before the Board votes, as a number of Board members suggested a $50 annual limit was preferable. The Board could potentially vote on the rules at its January meeting.
October 22, 2013 •
Ethics watchdogs say limits are too low
The city Board of Ethics has proposed new gift regulations designed to clarify what is and is not permitted under the city code. The proposed limits would allow city officers and employees to accept gifts of up to $200 per year from a single source, including cash gifts up to $50. Currently, only gifts of substantial economic value given with the expectation of influencing the public official or employee are prohibited.
City watchdogs have criticized the proposed limits as being too lenient, but ethics board member Sanjuanita Gonzales suggested those limits could be subject to change after public input.
A hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for November 20.
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.
March 26, 2012 •
Due Date Remains Same
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics issued an advisory alert announcing a delay in the availability of their online filing system for receipt of lobbyist and principal’s quarterly expense reports. The board’s online expense report function will not be available by April 30, the next date the reports are due.
However, because the quarterly expense reports, covering January 3 through March 31, remain due on April 30, the board intends to create an interim paper form expense reporting method. Lobbyists and principals will be able to fill out the interim form on the board’s website, which can then be downloaded and signed. The signed copy must be mailed or delivered to the board by the same April 30 deadline.
The board will advise all registered principals when the interim reporting method becomes available.
The current registration procedure is unaffected by the board’s announcement.
January 3, 2012 •
Board of Ethics Creates Interim Paper Filing System
The City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics has provided interim paper registration forms and instructions for lobbyists, lobbying firms, and principals to be used until an online registration and reporting system is completed. The registration forms allow filers to fill-in information before printing.
The board reminds filers that registration is not complete until a form is printed, signed, and mailed or delivered to the board of ethics with the registration fee.
Registration must occur within ten days after both the commencement of lobbying and the exceeding of thresholds. However, no event occurring prior to January 3, 2012 is relevant to determining the thresholds, registration date, or expense reporting.
November 16, 2011 •
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: The Board of Ethics has released an advisory alert stating lobbyist and principal registration will not be required prior to January 3, 2012.
The first reporting period will be the first quarter of 2012, and the first expense report is due April 30, 2012.
Regulation No. 9, regarding lobbying, will become effective January 3, 2012. The Board of Ethics intends to recommend amendments to Regulation No. 9 to bring it into conformity with amendments made to Philadelphia City Code Chapter 20-1200 by Bill No. 110556.
In the event an online filing system is not available by January 3, 2012, an interim registration method will be provided by the Board of Ethics.
July 7, 2011 •
Law Facing Challenges from Philadelphia Bar Association
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has announced it will delay enforcement of the city’s lobbying law until 30 days after the effective date of proposed board regulations.
According to a board resolution, the earliest that enforcement of the lobbying law may begin is September 26, 2011. P.C.C. §20-1200, which created Philadelphia’s lobbying law, became effective July 1. The board has previously announced that lobbyist registration will not begin until July 18, 2011 because of delays in implementing the electronic registration system.
Additionally, the Philadelphia Bar Association has filed suit challenging Philadelphia’s new lobbying law as being too far reaching. The Bar Association contends that the law’s definition of the term “lobbyist” unfairly targets lawyers who are not engaged in lobbying activities, and that only the state Supreme Court can regulate lawyers.
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