The day after it emerged (in this blog) that Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green had accepted $30,000 from a single donor in 2012, City Councilman Jim Kenney said he’ll offer legislation to curb such contributions.
The city’s campaign finance law limits individual contributions to candidates for city office to $2,900 per year. But Green’s $30,000 from Harold Honickman is legal because the contribution limits apply only to candidates, and Green isn’t a candidate until he files nominating petitions or publicly declares his candidacy. (see yesterday’s item on this here).
Green is considered a potential candidate for mayor in 2015.
Kenney said since City Council imposed contribution limits in 2003, other city officials have refrained from taking big contributions like the one Green accepted.
“I could easily be doing the same thing, but I chose not to, because I think that’s what was our intent (when the law was passed), so I kept my PAC contributions to the prescribed level and my individual contributions to the prescribed level,” Kenney said in a telephone interview.
Kenney said he hopes to have legislation to “close the loophole” either this week or next.
Green noted that the city’s campaign finance law requires that candidates for city office use only a single committee for fundraising and campaign spending, and that the contribution limits apply only to candidates, as defined by law, in city elections.
He said trying to restrict contributions on people who aren’t technically candidates will only encourage people who are considering a run to form another committee to accept larger contributions and use it for pre-campaign expenses.
If you find this confusing, you aren’t alone. Campaign finance regulations can get pretty technical. This debate may be clearer when we acutally see some legislation. For good measure, Green says he’ll soon have some campaign finance bills of his own to promote more transparency.
As a final note, I’ll report that the Believe Again PAC, the political committee apparently formed to raise early money for State Sen. Anthony William’s campaign for mayor raised $61,000 last year, and had $48,000 on hand as of January 31st. Williams told me he isn’t committed to running.
More on what he said and other potential mayoral candidates’ fundraising tomorrow, right here.