Thursday, April 24, 2008

Campaign Finance Reform -live blogging

Patrick Dowd:

Campaign donations are a good thing.

Campaign investments by donors are not a good thing.

Spending caps are not a good thing. Presents opportunities to allow for others to spend money and allow the candidate to be without accountability.

Tonya Payne: What are we talking about? The Senator of NY was out spent 3 to 1. Does spending really matter?

Worried about what we are allowed to spend upon. She wants to have no worries about what she spends upon out of her own pack. That is way off topic on this amendment.

Doug Shields: Candidates often indicate that they are going to run, but then they don't. An individual who publicly announces an intention to run for office. ???

What is the definition of a candidate?

A candidate is one who files papers. A candidate is a candidate that states so in public.

I (Mark Rauterkus) says a candidate is anyone who files papers to open up a PAC. Bill Peduto agrees.

Doug has not 'dug into' these amendments. Forgive me.

Doug, do your homework!!!!

Patrick reviews his concepts. Patrick is against and removes 'spending limits.'

Doug wants to take it in whole.

Darlene Harris is confused. Dog ate her homework. She just found out that this is coming to the table. Everything is all over the place. No time. She needs hand holding. She is confused. She doesn't have a copy of what she should have since January.

Jim Motznik does not have a copy of the original bill either.

Digest time...

Peduto went with deliberate and slow steps. Public hearing, post agenda, etc. I'm not going to make this into a personal thing. This means far too much for me.

Some asked for this to be held.

This is too much. We can agree to disagree. Keep on keeping on and then we can hold it.

Darlene Harris: Are we getting a copy?

Gosh. It is there.

Darlene Harris: I didn't know. We didn't sit down and talk.

She feels 'jilted' -- perhaps.

Rev. Burgess: I may offer an amendment myself. Let's go through the amendment process today. These are friendly amendments. Then we can bring back the bill.

T.Payne: No problems -- however... If, .... (wrong) ....

Patrick Dowd goes back on track.

First Amendment: 198.01 -- Remove spending caps.

02 -- more Removal of spending.

Top of 198.02 -- contribution limits.
Was $2,500 and $5,000 cap. Was without moving limits.

That was unacceptable to have a flat number. Inflation.

Individuals may make political contributions to candidates based upon the federal limits. So, if the amount shifts at the federal level, then it shifts locally. The limit is the federal guideline. Applies to both individuals and PAC contributions.

198.06 - Most important. Public record of reports! This is of value. It has to be out there, accessible and searchable. The info is there. But, it is difficult to get. It is not 'searchable' (today).

The role of the County Dept. of Election. And, this should not be housed in city clerk, council offices, controller's office. So he wants it within the Pgh Ethics Hearing Board. The papers need to go to two places. Do nothing different.

The Ethics Hearing Board have their own worries. And, he wants electronic filing. But, that will be their efforts.

Effective DATE is the other point of an amendment. This would not take effect until Jan 1, 2010.

Candidates could volunteer in 2009.

Bill Peduto: Rehash.

Bruce Kraus: Question about .06, the capacity of Ethics Board to handle this. Didn't know if $10,000 went through. ??? What bill comes first.

Patrick Dowd: He spoke to Sister Patrice. She thinks that they can begin to discuss this.

Folks, to keep an up to date database costs little or NOTHING. I can do it in Google Documents (spreadsheets).

Peduto: We are talking about 2010. There are two budget cycles.

Kraus: He wants a letter from Sister Patrice. This is 'on-going.'

Kraus: This is to take politics out of this upcoming election cycle. (giggle)

Motznik: Share concerns of Kraus as to the cost of Ethics Hearing Board.

Motznik: If you want to do it in 2010 -- take the volunteer realm out of it in 2009.

Patrick Dowd wants a beta version. Get the kinks out of it.

Tonya P: ... All candidates running for "city" elected office. Done.

Ethics board keeps in their database? Just names? Just amounts?

Everything needs to be reported, even a person's address.

T Payne: If each of us have 20,000 donors. That is a lot of data entry.

Yes, there will be some work. But, it needs to be smart. We might have to create special software, or, Google Documents could handle it.

Tonya pulled a joke. Nobody laughed.

Bill's mentions: PA has a searchable database too.

Harris: How is this enforced?

Peduto: It is enforced by the courts.

Harris: You do have honest candidates. Those that are not honest just give their money to someone else.

Peduto: Injunctive Relief explained. If you are a candidate and your opponent is bending the rules, you can take them to court.

Harris: What is the enforcement?

Peduto: Candidates already share the data among city and county.

Harris: A lot of the campaign papers are not notarized. ... It will be the same court action as we have right now.

Motznik: Wants to delete the volunteer element in 2009. He wants to set a date and live by that date. 198.09 section 2.

Dowd: He wants the system to be 'operational' by Jan 1, 2009. No zingers is the goal.

Dowd wants the pioneer pathway to be paved and with clearly marked Kennywood signs. Where is the Ethics Hearing Board office? Test drive. Dry runs.

Shields: CIS. Spur the county? Get this out of our hair. No problem with controller.


Burgess: Wants a flag with Authority Board Members and spouses. Disclose info by simply listing contributors and how much they gave. Special interests influence should become clear.

Checklist of the contributor. Spouse, child, etc. Responsibility is for the person that gives the money.

Burgess is over-reaching. He is diving into intent being transparent.

I didn't hear the whole thing.

Patrick Dowd like it. "I think this is a great amendment. I think this is excellent."

Shields complements Burgess. However, it is the language. Talks about "party of interest." ?? More to come. Extended family chart. ??? Looking for firm and fast rules to grand nephew. Shields is concerned about architecture. Some "B-contract areas" are not easily seen, such as a contractor for alternator/generators with the garage. Gets dicey. What is the penalty if there is non-disclosure?

Shields does not want to have a SAT test before getting onto the ballot. Candidates get bounced because of a faulty form.

Burgess talks too much.

Kraus wants to thank Burgess too. It goes to the heart. There are some things that he is not too comfortable with. Does business with city in excess of $x.00 might help to clarify and take pressure off the candidate.

Kraus: Responsibility and penalties. He goes to H&R Block. Defraud is -- under the best of intentions -- etc. What legal responsibilities the candidate has. This is defiantly a struggle. This is why we are at the table. Fully agree with the intent.

Harris: How would I remember the jobs we did with the last five years?

Burgess: The thought is for the 'contributor' not the candidate. He wants outlines of quid pro quos. Perhaps Dowd's sister in Florida gives another member of council gets $5,000. That should be out in the open. Perhaps the link is to a dollar amount. Perhaps if the giving is over $250. This is the elephant.

Peduto: Check box if you do business with the city. Direct links of vendors and contractors. The 'interested party' is defined. Peduto wants a hold.

Burgess wants to put it in even if it is half baked.

Dowd: Train leaving the station. This bit should be on the train.

Dowd: Burgess' amendment to the amendment is exactly what the pledge means -- as signed in Feb with all members of council, mayor and controller. Pledge #5.

Motznik: This is too vague to approve. (voted no, and only no)

Harris: Current state of Pgh because they don't contribute to campaigns... ??? If you are having a problem, call her office. Bid on projects, etc. 255-2135. She'll be glad to give assistance, even if you ran against her. Equal assistance and level playing field. And, the city has a print shop.

Burgess: Thanks Mr. Peduto for his hard work on this topic for several years. He is greatful for fruitfull. Move to hold for 2-weeks.

Motznik: "I'm all for campaign finance reform. I think it needs to be done at the state level."

Peduto: Does not want to have others feel 'left out.' This bill means a lot to me. Refuses to make it personal. Proud of the conversation.

See ya in 1 day on -- or in 2 weeks at the table.


Anonymous said...

Council broadens campaign donation rules, delays vote
Thursday, April 24, 2008
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Council today broadened proposed new campaign donation rules, then decided to think through the details before taking the first of two votes on the expanding package of reforms.

Councilman Ricky Burgess introduced an amendment to require that candidates disclose any contributors who have done business with the city or its authorities in the past five years, or have relatives who have done business with those entities.

"What we're trying to get at is the appearance -- real or perceived -- of quid pro quo relationships," said Mr. Burgess. He said full disclosure of contributors' interests in city business would "take the politics of contributions out of the system."

Council President Doug Shields said he doesn't "want to create an SAT test for a candidate to get into office," or create so much paperwork that no one wants to run. But he backed the amendment, with the understanding that the language will be reworked before passage.

The amendment passed 6-1, with Jim Motznik voting no and Dan Deasy and Tonya Payne out of the room. Council then voted unanimously to wait two weeks before voting on the entire ordinance.

The legislation, authored by Councilman William Peduto, would place the same contribution limits on candidates for city office that now apply to federal candidates. They would be able to accept $2,300 from any individual or partnership, and $5,000 from any political action committee, leading to a primary election, general election or special election.

The limits would take effect in 2010. A searchable online database of contributors might take effect earlier.

"I would like to see campaign finance reform done at the state level, because it puts it on an equitable playing field," said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "But we'll take a look at it, and I think Pittsburgh needs to lead by example. We have to do something, and I look forward to having a conversation with council to decide what that might be."

Mr. Ravenstahl, Mr. Peduto, and other council members have received five-figure campaign donations in past races.

First published on April 24, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Anonymous said...

Bob Mayo of WTAE TV

Pittsburgh Council Proposes Limiting Campaign Contributions

POSTED: 6:44 pm EDT April 24, 2008
UPDATED: 7:17 pm EDT April 24, 2008
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PITTSBURGH -- There are limits on how much any one person or group can donate to a presidential candidate.

Rules are a lot looser at the local level, but a bill being discussed by Pittsburgh City Council could change that.

There's no limit to how much cash a contributor can give a candidate for mayor, city council or controller.
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Councilman Bill Peduto is pushing for campaign finance reform to clamp down on building up huge war chests from big money donors.

Peduto said he wants to "catch Pittsburgh up with what cities around the country have been doing for the last 40 years, setting limits on the amounts of campaign contributions deep pockets can make."

Councilman Patrick Dowd's amendment would apply the contribution limits that are now in federal campaigns -- $2,300 from individuals and $5,000 from political action committees.

"If it's good enough for Sen. (Hillary) Clinton, Sen. (Barack) Obama and Sen. (John) McCain, it's certainly good enough for those of us who sit or who might someday sit at this table, in the controller's office or in the mayor's office," Dowd said.

Councilman Ricky Burgess' amendment would report contributor business with the city.

"It makes it very transparent if the person who's giving (said) what their relationship with the city is, and what benefit he or she would derive from that relationship," Burgess said.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl prefers state reform.

"I think Pittsburgh needs to lead by example, and we need to do something," Ravenstahl said. "I look forward to having a discussion with council on exactly what that might be."

An initial vote on the proposed reforms is still a couple of weeks awat.

The proposed changes would not take effect until 2010, after the next race mayoral race.

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh Council Proposes Limiting Campaign Contributions - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh: "Pittsburgh Council Proposes Limiting Campaign Contributions"