Chair Parker, Vice Chair Green, and Members of the Committee on Law and Government:
Thank you for including in this public hearing Bill Nos. 220049, 220360 and 220361. The Committee of Seventy firmly supports each of these pieces of legislation:
- Vendor spending loophole: The first, Bill No. 220049, intends to address the issue of candidate campaigns shielding important spending details from the public by paying vendors, political committees, or other entities to provide certain services. The legislation appropriately distinguishes between advertising vendors, a necessity in most campaigns for public office, and those that may provide other services (e.g., campaign staffing). The flow of money between candidate campaigns, ward committees, and other entities remains a concern for Seventy and will warrant continued discussion.
- Whistleblower protection: The second, Bill No. 220360, expands the whistleblower protections related to any Ethics Board inquiry, investigation, hearing or other proceeding. Going forward, any person—not only a city officer or employee—would be shielded from retaliation for engaging with the Board and from any person regardless of whether they work in city government. The bill would also add similar protections regarding interference with any Board proceeding.
- Campaign finance cleanup: The third, Bill No. 220361, provides for a host of technical changes to the city’s campaign finance law, most notably a more specific time period for candidate self funding that would trigger contribution limits for other candidate campaigns to double (i.e., the “millionaire’s provision”).
We continue to appreciate the commitment of Councilmember Derek Green, his colleagues on Council, and the Ethics Board to improve upon the campaign finance and ethics ordinances enacted in the 2000’s, which put Philadelphia in the vanguard of public integrity law among major cities. There remains a great deal more to do, especially in modernizing the city’s conflict-of-interest rules, and we look forward to working with you in the months ahead.
Committee of Seventy