Despite efforts to delay its passage, today Pittsburgh City Council voted to approve a measure to reform campaign finance in city elections. The bill would set contribution limits in line with federal standards.
As has become customary in council chambers, Councilor Darlene Harris served as the lone dissenting voice against the legislation. At last week's preliminary vote, she said the new limits unfairly advantage incumbent councilors.
The new contribution limits would be $2,700 for individuals and $5,000 for political committees for each election. The bill also prohibits candidates from having more than one candidate committee.
Today's vote was necessary to ensure that the new campaign finance limits go into effect before the next election cycle that will begin after the Nov. 3 election.
"Look no bill is perfect, we come back and amend, people find loopholes," said Councilor Daniel Gilman, the bill's primary sponsor. "You can't ever let perfection be the enemy of the good. So while I respect people who disagree ... these are very good bills, and they're going to take us a long step forward to transparency, to holding government officials accountable and giving the public greater comfort. Furthermore, this city needs campaign finance limits. Money is out of control in politics."
Although Councilor Harris had not raised the issue at previous meetings since the bill was introduced, she says council should hold a public hearing on the bill before passing it.
"Something like this, I think the public should have a say so in, and I don't see why we have to rush it," Harris said.
The bill passed with eight votes. Council also passed a measure to revamp the city's ethics board, which has been inactive fore several years.