Friday, February 02, 2007

Flurry of action on city campaign finance

Yesterday's discussion of Kenney's new revoke-the-contribution-limits bill has sparked a bunch more press coverage and an action campaign over at Young Philly Politics. Specifically, the Inquirer has a story headlined Campaign fund caps may fall, noting that a majority of City Council members have already signed on, and the DN goes with Bill would erode donation reform, noting criticism from 3/5 mayoral candidates (and some big donations to the other two). The Daily News also asked each mayoral candidate to give a specific reaction to Kenney's bill, presenting the results here, which range from the thoughtful to the evasive.
money tree
DN columnist Jill Porter gives the cynical take that our attempt at campaign finance reform is being overturned at its first test, as though "row-house voters" would ever have close to the influence of big corporations in the absence of limits. The Inquirer adds its editorial voice, saying Don't gut reform, decrying the way that pay-to-play culture has undermined public confidence in their government.
As Zack Stalberg, at the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, noted, Council wants "to blow apart a decent system" where it is "hard to buy and sell influence." And blow it apart long before it has ever had one decent trial.

The yearly donation limits ($5,000 per person and $20,000 per political committee) forced every candidate but Knox to seek support from a cross-section of donors. Not only does that limit the potential for influence peddling, this broader outreach is good for the city's civic life.
Personally, I hardly think Big Dogs like Fattah and Brady are in any danger of going unnoticed because of a few early Knox ads, but apparently they're either spooked or just greedy.

Anyway, over at YPP, lots of action. Poster Gaetano lays out the case for why this is important, not least as a precedent for the relative value we place on principles versus convenience. Meanwhile, Dan U-A is asking all Councilfolk to step up and oppose this bill, and even giving them free space in which to state their views. Meanwhile, he's collecting a list of Council members and candidates who are on record opposing Kenney's bill (also some back-and-forth with Kenney in the comments there), as well as enumerating the bill's cosponsors, and a heap of coming Council candidates spell out their opposition in separate posts:
  • Wilson Goode, Jr. (at-large incumbent), says he'll vote no
  • Maria Quinones Sanchez (7th District, challenger) joins the opposition (and calls on her opponent to vote against the bill)
  • Vern Anastasio (1st District, challenger) uses the example of megacorp Comcast to demonstrate the broad range of problems that can arise from uncapped donations (at Council as well as mayoral levels).
  • Matt McClure (4th District, challenger)
  • Irv Ackelsberg (8th District, challenger)
There are lots of promising challengers out there, so anybody who votes for this bill had better have a better reason than one surprising poll or a deep affection for Bob Brady. The long-term interests of Philadelphia are at stake.

Note: edited late in the day to include the list of co-sponsors and a couple of added posts by opponents.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should any Councilperson change their vote on the political contributions bill they'll be faced with the obvious question of if just a few months ago they were stupid - or just lying to their constituents.

2:52 PM  
Blogger DanielUA said...

Add Marc Stier, Matt Ruben, Philly Forward, the Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of Seventy to the list, as well.

Its growing.

6:53 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

well, some of those were on record already yesterday. but keep up the good work of compiling all the positions! great resource!

7:02 PM  

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