Friday, May 30, 2008

Campaign Finance Reform legislation

BILL 2008-0026


Ordinance supplementing the Pittsburgh Code, Title One, Administrative, by adding a new section, Article XIII, entitled, “Campaign Finance Regulations.”

Be it resolved that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1. The Pittsburgh Code, Title One, Administrative, is hereby supplemented by adding a new section, Article XIII, entitled, “Campaign Finance Regulations,” as follows:

Chapter 198: Campaign Finance Regulations

§198.01 Definitions

For purposes of this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Candidate

(a) An individual who files nomination papers or petitions for City elective office.

(b) An individual who publicly announces his or her candidacy for City elective office.

(2) Candidate Political Committee.

The one political committee used by a candidate to receive all contributions and make all expenditures as required by §198.03.

(3) City elective office

The offices of Mayor, City Controller, or City Council.

(4) Contribution

Money, gifts, forgiveness of debts, loans, or things having a monetary value incurred or received by a candidate or his/her agent for use in advocating or influencing the election of the candidate.

(5) Covered election

Every primary, general or special election for City elective office.

(6) Person

An individual, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship, or other form of business organization permitted under the laws of the Commonwealth to make political contributions.

(7) Pre-candidacy contribution

A contribution made to a political committee that: (a) has been transferred to, or otherwise becomes available for expenditure by, a candidate for City elective office; and (b) was made before such candidate became a candidate.

§198.02 Contribution Limitations

(1) Except as provided in subsection (3), no individual shall make total contributions per covered election, including contributions made to or through one or more political committees, of more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) to a candidate for a City elective office.

a. On the Monday following a mayoral general election, the contribution limit shall increase by the percent difference in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Customers (CPI-U) for the previous two years.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (3), no person, other than individuals who are covered under §198.02(1), and no political committee shall make total contributions per covered election of more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) to a candidate for a City elective office.

(3) The limitations imposed by this Chapter shall not apply to contributions from a candidate’s personal resources to the candidate’s political committee. However, if such contributions total $250,000 or more (regardless of the time period over which such contributions are made), then the contribution limits set forth in this Section for all other candidates for that City elective office shall double.

(4) The limitations imposed by this subsection shall not apply to volunteer labor.

(5) No candidate for City elective office, and no political committee, shall accept any contribution which exceeds the contribution limits set forth in this Chapter.

§198.03 Candidate Political Committee Accounts

A candidate for City elective office shall have no more than one political committee and one checking account for the city office being sought, into which all contributions for such office shall be made, and out of which all expenditures for that office shall be made. If the candidate for office maintains other political or non-political accounts for which contributions are solicited, such funds collected in these accounts shall not be used for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a covered election

§198.04 Competitive Bidding and Disclosure

(1) Any person who makes a maximum contribution during an election cycle may not be awarded a contract relating to City affairs, without going through a competitive bidding process.

(2) Any candidate seeking an elective office in the City must submit a disclosure form for every contributor who makes a contribution of five-hundred dollars ($500.00) or more:

1. Does business with or has a contract with the City, its Authorities, Boards or Commissions and the nature of said business or contract for the past five (5) years;

2. Is employed by the City, its Authorities, Boards or Commissions or was employed by the same in the past five (5) years;

3. Has an appointment to any Authority Board or any other Board or Commission of the City or has held one in the past five (5) years;

§198.05 Public Record of Reports

All candidates submitting campaign finance reports to the Allegheny County Department of Elections shall simultaneously file copies with the City Controller for the City of Pittsburgh. The Department of City Information System is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date and public database that is searchable based on the following categories: candidate name, contributor name, contribution level, and, where applicable, employer.

§198.06 Required Notice of Contribution Limits

The Ethics Hearing Board shall annually arrange for the publication of a notice setting forth the contribution limits set forth in this Chapter, together with a plain English explanation of the provisions of this Chapter and the penalties and remedies for violations. Such notice shall also appear at all times on the City’s official website.

§198.07 Penalties and Injunctive Relief

(1) Any person residing in the City of Pittsburgh, including the City Solicitor may bring an action for injunctive relief in any Court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin any violations of, or to compel compliance with, the provisions of this Chapter. The Court may award to a prevailing plaintiff in any such action his or her costs of litigation.

(2) The provisions of this Chapter shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Ethics Hearing Board.

§198.08 Severability

If any provision of this Ordinance shall be determined to be unlawful, invalid, void, or unenforceable, then that provision shall be considered severable from the remaining provisions of this Ordinance, which shall be in full force and effect.

§198.09 Effective Date; Implementation

(1) This Ordinance shall take on January 1, 2010.

(2) By June 1, 2009 the City Controller should provide City Council with a report on the City’s preparedness of the implementation of this ordinance.


Mark Rauterkus said...

This is the bill that was passed on WED, after the discussion session. There were a number of changes made to the bill that day.

There are likely to be some small changes on Tuesday.

I will try to attend the council meeting on Tuesday to encourage the others to make this possible.

Furthermore, we do NOT know what Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will do with the bill -- sign it, or not.

Burgher Jon said...

Mark, unless I'm reading this wrong... If you're running for 4 or 5 offices (I don't specifically recal how many you ran for last time) you could set up a political comittee and checking account for each and then by extension collect 2K or 5K from each person for each office.

If that really is a loophole (I'm not a lawyer) I wonder if candidates that don't typically run for 4 or 5 offices would choose to exploit it.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I am not a lawyer either.

History: Last time, I ran, in the end, for 2 offices. I got others to stand for a few more.

You are right -- perhaps. This is a grey area. I would NOT want to take it to court. But, there is a loop hole here. I think it would be okay to have multiple PACs and seek multiple offices.

Furthermore, it would be okay to have multiple PACs and have money come from them for ONE office too.

Give $5,000 to Dads for Good Gov. Give $5,000 to Moms for Good Gov. Give $5,000 for Parents for Good Gov. All could give money to Mark Rauterkus for City Controller. And, do it again next year too.

So what.

Burgher Jon said...

Wouldn't that be caught by the "made to or through one or more political committees" clause in 198.02 1 and 2? If not, at the very least each PAC would be limited to 5000 so I if I wanted to give you $50,000 for your controller campaign I'd have to individualy start 10 PACs. Maybe there could/should be a rule on how many PACs an individual can start and/or fund.

I guess you really know what a law means until someone takes it to court.

Mark Rauterkus said...

No matter what -- there are going to be loopholes. Some are going to be big.

How about NO PAC donations at all.

Really, the best thing would be real-time reporting of incomes and expenses -- via private sector -- with transparent accounts for candidates. Go ahead and look at my bank statement with intenet banking capabilities -- for viewing only -- as it occurs.