Monday, January 12, 2009

Onorato and Ravenstahl want Campaign Finance Reform

By the end of the week the Pittsburgh City Council and the Allegheny County Council will both be considering identical campaign finance limits laws. The county executive and the mayor will submit identical bills Thursday. The measure would cap yearly campaign contributions at $4,600 for individuals and $10-thousand for political action committees. However, federal courts have ruled that it is impossible to limit a candidate’s own spending, so if a candidate plans to “self-fund” a campaign, they would have to check a box on their registration form lifting the limits for anyone in that race. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says any candidate checking the self-fund box would come under close scrutiny. He says if they were doing it simply to get around the caps or to allow other candidates to get around the caps the public would be able to see through the rouse. County Executive Dan Onorato says the check-off box is needed to make sure a candidate does not dump a million dollars into a campaign in the final weeks of the race when the other candidate can not possible recover. Ravenstahl says he thinks it is important that both the city and the county have the same law and he hopes the state will follow suit. The caps would not go into effect until 2010. The figures were set based on half of the two year federal limits and would change as the federal limits change. Currently there are no limits on campaign contributions in the city.

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