A newly formed group running a negative ad in the waning days of the Philadelphia mayor’s race has filed a required report of its activities several days late with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics Board.
Last week, the group began airing a hard-hitting TV ad attacking mayoral candidate Jim Kenney and electricians’ union leader John Dougherty.
The Washington-based organization called Leadership Matters registered as a nonprofit corporation, a technique often used by political actors to shield their donors from public exposure.
But in Philadelphia, the city Ethics Board says any such group spending money to influence city elections must file required financial reports.
Since the spending on this ad comes after the last reporting deadline before the primary election, its report would have to be filed with 24 hours of the media buy.
I contacted Chris Lapetina, the Washington-based consultant who’s executive director of Leadership Matters, and he told me the group plans to comply with the law.
After conferring with the group’s attorney and apparently communicating with the Ethics Board, Lapetina told me late Monday the group had filed its required report. The group hasn’t shared a copy with me, and it hasn’t yet appeared on the Ethics Board’s website.
The Ethics Board sent a notice out May 7 alerting groups involved in the municipal election that the board’s enforcement staff would pursue enforcement and penalties for anyone who fails to file required reports related to the primary election.
The penalty for filing late is $250 per day, up to a maximum of $2,000 for the first 30 days.
The required 24-hour report would reveal the amount Leadership Matters spent on the ad. (A media buyer told me it’s around $78,000.) The group won’t have to disclose its financial backers until another report is due June 18.
The Kenney campaign says the ad, which focuses on statements about police use of force Kenney made in 1997, is “a reprehensible attempt to inflame and divide the city.”
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, Leadership Matters was incorrectly identified as Leadership Philadelphia in the penultimate paragraph. The two groups are unrelated.