Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peduto: Campaign Finance Reform by the Numbers

Click to enlarge

How does the Onorato-Ravenstahl proposal to limit political contributions compare to campaign finance reform in other cities?

Here's a chart offered by Councilman Bill Peduto during City Council's meeting on the topic. Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look. (I reformatted his chart to add color and to move the mayoral data to the first two columns.)

Some quick breakout points:

• Under the plan offered by Mayor Ravenstahl, someone running for mayor of Pittsburgh would be able to accept twice as much per person and per committee as President Obama did during a national political campaign.

• On this chart, only Salt Lake City ($7,500) and New York City ($4,900) are shown allowing more per person in mayor's race contributions than the proposal for Pittsburgh. In Philadelphia it's $2,500. Cleveland and Cincinnati cap it at $1,000.

• According to the chart, proposed limits on political action committee (PAC) contributions to a candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh ($10,000) would be double what's allowed in New York City ($4,950) and Philadelphia ($5,000).

• Los Angeles caps PAC contributions to candidates for mayor at $900,000 in the "maximum total aggregate". That could pay for almost all of a mayoral campaign in Pittsburgh.



Mark Rauterkus said...

The loophole is PACs.

A union's PAC can give 2.5 times as much as an individual. But, a union PAC often has a city, county, regional and national PAC. And, it can have Grey PAC, Gay PAC, At-Home PAC, Retired PAC, Women's PAC, and so on. Anyone can make a PAC. PAC can then funnel money to candidates.

A rule follower could give $1-M to various PACs and they can all end up giving money to the same candidate for the same campaign.

When the rights of a mob, group or clan exceed that of the individual, red flags should fly.

Paz said...

Someone should check my math, but I'm pretty sure if $900,000 is enough money to run in a city 12 times Pittsburgh's size, doesn't that mean that a twelfth of $900,000 ($73,000) would be enough to run a campaign in Pittsburgh?

The numbers are a little excessive, but you get the point.

Bob Mayo said...

Actually Paz (according to Peduto), the $900,000 figure is the Los Angeles limit on total of PAC contributions to a candidate for mayor. That could be, for example, contributions of $9,000 dollars each, from 100 different PACs. A candidate there could also raise, an unlimited number of contributions from individuals, as long as no single individual gave a mayoral candidate there more than $500.

Anonymous said...

are peduto's proposed limits in the chart? Why can't i see it!?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Presently, Peduto does not have any 'proposed limits' in that there is no pending legislation from him at this time. The limits on the table are from Ravenstahl. However, in a matter of objection, Peduoto said that the present bill's #s are way too high. So, I expect Peduto will, if it gets that far along, offer an amendment.

First, watch the time frame. Fed elections rule limits on the primary and another limit on the general. Two cycles. Some talk in Pgh is for only one limit for a 4-year period. Folks, it should work along the same lines as the Fed laws.

Next, watch the limits in terms of different offices. Should a mayor or county exec limit be 9x greater -- or 15x greater -- than a member of city council or county council.

Beware of apples to apples.

Finally, the 'in-kind donations' need attention too. That's a future chapter as well. Use of an empty store-front, for example, (6 months x $3,000 rent) would be not permitted if the donation needed to fit within the limits.

Lady Elaine said...

Thanks Bob:

Campaign Finance Reform is about leveling the playing field and transparency in government and that is not what those who are
reluctant want to have.

This is why some people like the idea of millionaires running for political office (i.e. Ross Perot, The Terminator). It is an image of "they can't be bought."

With the proposed "limits," it's hard for a person who is used to fundraising a certain way to all of a sudden start fundraising with restrictions, especially if it's seen as a potential threat of usurping his or her seat. They feel they will not be able to raise enough money or even have the power of BIG healthcare or BIG businesses cutting hugh fat checks.

Look at the difference of Hillary with Obama. She had more corporate donors, but Obama had more individual donors, donating less money--like $50. And he outraised her. There is a lot of power with leveling out the playing field. A little guy like a Barack Obama has a chance to become President. A Carmen Robinson has a chance to become Pittsburgh Mayor.

The businesses and PACS will follow. They are probably pressuring people on council and Luke to jack up the limits. But in the end, if the field is even, they will follow (unless backdoor negotiations start up again).