Just hours after the Commonwealth Court upheld the constitutionality of Philadelphia’s campaign finance ordinance, U.S. Rep. — and mayoral candidate — Chaka Fattah said he planned to appeal.
With that annoucement comes its critics. The Committee of Seventy, a political watchdog group that filed an amicus curiae in support of upholding the contribution limits, denounced the planned appeal yesterday.
The group’s president, Zack Stalberg, said the organization hoped the state Supreme Court would refuse to hear the case. If the case does to go up to the high court, Stalberg said the Committee would file another amicus brief.
“The Commonwealth Court was resolute in its determination that Philadelphia has every right to enact campaign contribution limits,” Stalberg said. “To discard contribution limits would invite a return to the very pay-to-play culture that the city’s ordinance was specifically designed to end.
“He said the removal of the limits so close to the May 15 primary would result in a “fundraising frenzy.”
“Given the municipal scandals this town has endured, it is unfortunate that some candidates continue to believe that they need to raise unlimited sums of money in order to win the election,” Stalberg said. “I wish that allowing a wealthy candidate to spend his own money was not constitutionally permissible, but it is,” he said, referring to millionaire mayoral candidate Tom Knox.
The Commonwealth Court’s ruling puts back in place the $5,000 campaign contribution limit for individuals and a $20,000 limit for businesses or political action committees. It is believed that all of the candidates had been following those limits even though a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge ruled in December 2006 that the ordinance was unconstitutional. ~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter