Post-Gazette NOW - Local News - Early Returns City campaign finance reformAt this week's Allegheny County Libertarian board meeting, and such a great meeting it was, we talked about this concept. One of the other board members said, "If we had transparent PAC accounts, there would be no need to have anything else. We'd know exactly who is the source of the money that is heading to the politicians.
Speaking of meetings and speeches, council's public hearing on member William Peduto's campaign finance reform legislation is set for 2 p.m. next Tuesday.
For those of you who can't wait for an earnest discussion of campaign donation caps and pre-campaign contribution limits, here's a neat idea former council candidate Mark Rauterkus dropped on Early Returns today:
Why not convince a bank to set up special political campaign accounts that anyone with an Internet browser can check in on whenever they want? The city could then compel all candidates for its offices to use such accounts for all of their campaign activity, making all contributions and expenses public instantly, rather than disclosing them only a few times a year in paper records filed on the sixth floor of the County Office Building.
Mr. Rauterkus said he presented the idea to a citizens committee on campaign finance that Mr. Peduto convened, and you can bet he'll be back at the public hearing.
I'm not certain that the "transparent PAC accounts" are a silver bullet. But, it is the best weapon we could ever wish for -- complete transparency.
And, to couple that transparency, we need the punishment phase to be all about the complete avoidance of payments of any types of checks and contracts (and pay) for those who break the campaign finance reform measures.
That's the other brilliant idea -- the scarlet letter!