Ethics board ready to enforce new limit on PAC contributions

    The Philadelphia Board of Ethics will soon develop regulations clarifying a new restriction on political contributions enacted by City Council and signed by Mayor Michael Nutter Thursday.

    Though the hearing and approval process for the new regulations will take at least three months, ethics board executive Shane Creamer said the new rule is already in effect.

    The ordinance was designed to close a loophole in the provision of the city’s campaign finance law that limits contributions by a political committee to $10,600 per candidate annually.

    Local 98 of the electricians union appeared to have legally gotten around that restriction by giving money to three other committees which then donated to two council candidates the union favored, Bill Green and Bobby Henon.

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    The new law explicitly bans political committees from making contributions through other committees.

    The ethics coard’s forthcoming regulations will define that activity more clearly, but Creamer says anyone wondering about a potential contribution before the May 17 primary can ask the board for guidance.

    Creamer said the board will look into any suspected violations of the new restriction.

    “We will be able to conduct an investigation, issue subpoenas, compel testimony, (and) get documents that might tend to prove that a PAC or an individual has effectively made a contribution through another political committee that violates the contribution limits,” Creamer said.

    A committee that makes contributions in excess of the legal limits could be fined up to $2,000.

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