O'Neill questions campaign donations

The already contentious battled for Northeast Philadelphia’s 10th Councilmanic District just got a little more heated.

City Councilman Brian O’Neill claims his Democratic opponent, Bill Rubin, received donations that violated the city’s campaign finance laws.

First, some background: There used to be an easy way for Political Action Committees to get around the $10,600 campaign contribution limit for a candidate in an election cycle -- they simply funneled the money to another PAC, which passed the money back to the candidate.

In April, City Council voted unanimously to close this obvious campaign loophole.

O’Neill’s campaign said in a news release on Sunday that the Washington, D.C.-based American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) donated $10,600 to Rubin’s campaign in April.

A few weeks later, AFSCME contributed $47,500 to the local white collar union, District Council 47, which later contributed $10,600 to Rubin.
O’Neill’s camp said the Ethics Board has opened a preliminary investigation into the allegation.

The Ethics Board today wouldn’t confirm or deny whether there was an investigation.
Rubin said the loophole regulation didn’t go into effect until August, long after the donations were made.

“I haven’t accepted any money from AFSCME since the primary,” he said.

A $250 donation from District Council 47 was returned, Rubin said, after his campaign realized the union had already reached the contribution limit.

“Desperate men do desperate things,” he said of O’Neill’s claim.