Tell Council To Stand Firm On Campaign-Finance Limits -- Reject "Restore Pay-To-Play" Legislation

WE WON - COUNCIL WILL HOLD OFF ON CONSIDERING "RESTORE PAY-TO-PLAY" LEGISLATION -- Thank you to everyone who made our collective voice heard!

Last week, Philadelphia Forward offered sharp criticism for City Councilmembers who want to take a step backwards on ethics reform by eliminating contribution limits for donations to mayoral candidates in races against a self-funded candidate. (We received many positive comments about the writing, so click "read more" to find it reproduced below in its entirety). Now it is your your Councilmembers and let them know that you are counting on them to stand firm on the current campaign finance limits -- or that you will remember their actions on Election Day.

  • The Honorable Frank DiCicco — 215.686.3458
  • The Honorable Anna C. Verna — 215.686.3412
  • The Honorable Jannie L. Blackwell — 215.686.3418
  • The Honorable Carol Ann Campbell — 215.686.3416
  • The Honorable Darrell L. Clarke — 215.686.3442
  • The Honorable Joan L. Krajewski — 215.686.3444
  • The Honorable Daniel J. Savage — 215.686.3448
  • The Honorable Donna Reed Miller — 215.686.3424
  • The Honorable Marian B.Tasco — 215.686.3454
  • The Honorable Brian J. O'Neill — 215.686.3422
  • The Honorable Wilson Goode, Jr. — 215.686.3414
  • The Honorable Jack Kelly — 215.686.3452
  • The Honorable James F. Kenney — 215.686.3450
  • The Honorable Juan F. Ramos — 215.686.3420
  • The Honorable Blondell Reynolds Brown — 215.686.3438
  • The Honorable Frank Rizzo — 215.686.3440
  • The Honorable William Greenlee — 215.686.3446

It is truly disappointing to see that Councilmembers are pushing for a bill to eliminate contribution limits for mayoral candidates in races against a self-funded candidate. The reason we all have worked toward campaign-finance reform in Philadelphia is to limit the influence of special-interest money and increase the likelihood that candidates who can generate broad and popular support can be viable in the political system. The way to deal with the issue of a "millionaire candidate" who can spend his or her wealth is not by encouraging additional special-interest money, but by increasing opportunities for candidates to reach voters with their message — by expanding public funding of campaigns; using public resources like the city's web site and cable channel to allow candidates to communicate with the public; or working with the media to create lower-cost or free opportunity to use radio, television, and newspapers to deliver their message.

The great irony in the move to expand special-interest contributions in the current mayor's race is that it suggests that somehow the non-self-funded candidates in the race are somehow disadvantaged by the fact that a candidate from outside traditional party politics can spend large amounts of money when it ignores all of the advantages enjoyed by the other candidates in the race — especially for the officials who maintain their elected office while they run for mayor. They are literally being paid by the public as they run for office, they can use their status as elected officials to encourage support and donations, they can use their publicly funded staff and their position to create news and improve their image, and they can make pronouncements and dole out public money in ways to win political support.

If the fear is that Philadelphia voters will be swayed by a few television commercials and that a wealthy candidate can somehow "buy" his or her way into City Hall, maybe the members of City Council who are backing the push to eliminate the donation limits are missing the point. Not only did the recent polls show the popularity of a self-funded candidate, it pointed out how the overwhelming majority of Philadelphia believe that the city is headed in the wrong direction and that 78% of voters would favor a mayoral candidate who has a plan to reduce city corruption. Maybe they should not be surprised that — given such dissatisfaction with the status quo — voters can get excited about an outsider candidate who stresses a message that we need to take the "For Sale" sign off of City Hall.

Unless we restore integrity in Philadelphia's governmental and political process, Philadelphians will continue to pose the question: "for whom is the city run?" The "Pay-To-Play" culture holds Philadelphia back and we have made strides with important ethics reforms to move Philadelphia forward. Now is not a time to take a step back.