Friday, April 27, 2012

Blast from the past: Neat idea wrote the P-G

Once upon a time, the Post-Gazette reported:
City campaign finance reform

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.

This blog was written by Post-Gazette Staff Writers Rich Lord and Ed Blazina.

Idea is still valid.

Consider the saga that comes with John Edwards and his political mess with a lover and donations. If he had an OPEN PAC that everyone could witness as money flowed into and out of it, then he would not be in trouble today.

I don't know all the details of the case, but it seems to me there are two points in time when money can be diverted: Income to the candidate and expenses from the candidate. The money is either coming or going and one or two of those actions can lead to serious trouble.

Edwards must have taken money that wasn't document and reported. Did he get money as a personal loan? Then that money would be hidden from the PAC. But, those who give the money would know it wasn't posted in his OPEN PAC. They'd see it was cashed and posted to some other account, not his OPEN PAC, where all can see the deposits and payments. The other time when sins can occur with the money is when it is spent. As he spent money on expenses that were not ethical, in an OPEN PAC, all could see it and then raise red flags.

"Candidate Edwards, what about yesterdays payment to your mistress? Was she really worth that amount?"

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