Philadelphia, July 30, 2015 — Mayor Michael A. Nutter and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke were joined by Philadelphia Board of Ethics Executive Director Shane Creamer as they signed landmark campaign disclosure legislation into law.
The legislation, Bill No. 150368, updates the Philadelphia Code to regulate campaign finance disclosures from non-candidate parties, such as nonprofit organizations, corporations, partnerships, and political action committees (PACs). The legislation, co-sponsored by Council President Clarke and Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, passed unanimously on June 11, 2015 and was drafted in cooperation with the Board of Ethics.
“Operating City government with the highest standards of ethics and integrity is one of the hallmarks of my Administration. Over the last seven years, we have accomplished a lot, but there is always more we can do,” said Mayor Nutter. “This law will illuminate Philadelphia’s election process by expanding the reporting requirements for organizations that fundraise for the purpose of spending money on elections. Policy-makers, the courts and the public have long recognized that the best way to check the potential influence of campaign dollars on the decision-making of elected officials is to require public disclosure. I applaud the Board of Ethics for addressing this ‘hidden’ aspect of our electoral process and thank City Council for passing this bill.”
Council President Clarke said, “Public office holders in Philadelphia are held to high transparency standards, and so should the people and organizations that help them win elections. When millions of dollars from anonymous wealthy individuals and powerful organizations comprise the majority of campaign expenditures, it’s no wonder so many Americans are skeptical of our political system. The powerful and wealthy should abide by the same rules as everyone else who participates in elections. This law helps level the playing field in Philadelphia by requiring independent groups to disclose the source of their funding.”
Board of Ethics Executive Director Creamer said, “The Ethics Board commends Mayor Nutter and City Council, especially Council President Clarke, for passing and approving this important amendment to the City’s Campaign Finance Law. The new disclosure requirements will ensure that the public will be fully informed about who is spending money to influence City elections, as well as who is funding those efforts. This law puts Philadelphia in the vanguard of an effort to shed light on political spending by super PACs and non-profits that have been spending millions of dollars nationwide to influence federal, state and local elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.”
Effective upon signing, the law requires non-candidate parties to file campaign finance reports every two weeks starting six weeks before an election. Disclosures regarding electioneering communications, such as TV ads paid for by non-candidate parties, are also required within 50 days of an election.
“The flood of undisclosed money since Citizens United has diminished the voices of individual voters and corroded our democracy. The City of Philadelphia today is placing another check on the wealthy and powerful who have become disproportionately influential in our politics,” Councilwoman Tasco said. “This law should be viewed as part of a larger strategy by individuals to reclaim our democracy, which includes reversing the methodical dilution of the Voting Rights Act by state legislatures, including Pennsylvania’s, over the past few decades.”