Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Campaign Finance - Vetoed

Here's the news story. I would like to see some statistics on what portion of Ravenstahl's Campaign War Chest was obtained from donations that would have been made illegal by this bill. The Post-Gazette pointed out (in nonscientific style) that he gained $299,000 from people/organizations that gave over $10,000 each. In a previous post I noted that two separate Lamar executives gave him $25,000 each. They would have been limited to $2,000 each if this law were in place.

Anyway, the mayor clearly couldn't say that. So instead I'll analyze the reasons he DID give:

  • Luke:: "It provides an unfair competitive advantage for the wealthy"
  • Analysis: It does, a little bit. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has stated that you can't limit campaign contributions of an individual to his/her own campaign. The law tries to fight this by doubling campaign limits if a self-funded candidate raises more then $250,000.
  • My Thought: Unfortunately, this is going to be a weakness of any campaign finance bill. If anyone funds their own campaign it will be up to the opponent's contributors to find a way to raise enough money.

  • Luke: "will have a chilling effect on the labor movement."
  • Analysis: I suppose that's because it will limit campaign contributions made by unions?
  • My Thought: Oh well, this just means that individuals within the union will have to decide who they want to contribute to, rather then having their dues piled up and given to one candidate. Score one for Democracy.

  • Luke: "True reform would cap City Council races at one-ninth of what may be contributed in races for citywide offices"
  • Analysis: This is, of course, based on the logic that their are 9 council districts.
  • My Thought: 1/9 is a bit extreme. Especially since council members are frequently gaining donations that they will one day apply to a mayoral run. Using a fraction though is ok with me, maybe 1/2. The numbers that are in the bill should be used for Mayor though, they are plenty high. I wouldn't disagree with chopping each number by half and calling them Council Numbers.

There are some valid points, and it's not a perfect bill. However, if we wait for the perfect bill before we do anything, we'll never have campaign finance reform. I wonder if some people are waiting for the perfect bill for that exact reason.

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