March 21, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidate Bill Peduto filed an injunction today in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to defend the city’s campaign finance ordinance against blatant violations being committed by Michael Lamb and Jack Wagner.
As the principal author of Pittsburgh’s campaign finance ordinance, enacted in 2010 to reduce the influence of “big money” in city politics, Peduto felt the duty to step forward to formally ask the Court to enjoin Lamb and Wagner from using contributions funneled through other non-Mayoral political accounts to influence the upcoming Mayoral election.
“It is our intent to follow the spirit and the letter of the law,” said Peduto. “And to insure that others do the same. This is ultimately about being fair to the residents of Pittsburgh, who overwhelmingly support campaign finance reform, and ensuring the integrity of the upcoming Primary Election for Mayor.”
Wagner recently publicly stated that he intended to illegally use hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in a prior failed bid for Governor as a “down payment” on his candidacy for Mayor. Wagner’s statewide campaign 2012 finance reports also show that he was depositing contributions into his Governor campaign account just weeks before announcing for Mayor, in $5,000 and $10,000 increments from out-of-town donors, well beyond the limits imposed by the city ordinance.
Lamb similarly has indicated his intention to illegally convert money raised in his City Controller political account to bankroll his Mayoral candidacy. Lamb’s 2012 campaign finance reports show that he has converted over $200,000 of contributions raised in his City Controller account to support his candidacy for Mayor.
As a contrast, Peduto has followed the city ordinance by suspending his City Council account in late 2012, starting a new political account for Mayor, and raising money for the mayoral campaign from the first dollar.
Under Section 198.03 of the city ordinance, if a candidate for Mayor maintains other political accounts for which contributions are solicited (such as, for City Controller or Governor), such funds collected in these accounts for such other political offices shall not be used for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election for Mayor, in excess of $4,000.
Pittsburgh’s campaign finance ordinance was modeled after a similar law in Philadelphia. Current Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter took other Mayoral candidates to court in 2006 for violations similar to Lamb’s and Wagner’s illegal conversion of contributions. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the Philadelphia ordinance in 2006.
Councilman Peduto previously submitted a petition to the Allegheny County Board of Elections in February to challenge Lamb’s conversion of funds raised in his City Controller account for use in the Mayoral primary. After receiving the endorsement of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Councilman John DeFazio, two of the three members of the Board of Elections, Peduto voluntarily withdrew that earlier petition to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
“This is more than just about good government. It’s about candidates for Mayor abiding by the laws of the city they claim to be running to lead. Our campaign finance ordinance was put in place to prohibit exactly the kind of illegal activities that are being conducted by these other candidates,” said Peduto.
A copy of the complaint for injunction is attached.