Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pols Breakin' the Rules

The Corbett administration has released a list of pols failing to comply with campaign-finance filing deadlines. Maybe their fines should be increased to help fund state needs.

Pols Breakin' the Rules

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was instrumental in securing historic designation for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail - a 685-mile path crossing eight states from Newport, R.I., to Yorktown, Va. (David Swanson / Staff Photographer)
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was instrumental in securing historic designation for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail - a 685-mile path crossing eight states from Newport, R.I., to Yorktown, Va. (David Swanson / Staff Photographer)

I think I found a new source of state funding. Or at least a new reason to dislike state pols and our lax campaign-finance laws.

The Corbett administration Thursday released a list of candidates for state offices who failed to meet a filing deadline for campaign-finance reports.

The reports, showing who gave how much to whom in last year's election cycle, are by law due January 31 and failure to comply means fines.

Since this is a matter of being resposible for fiscal stuff -- and you KNOW which party is the "fiscally responsible" party -- I don't have to tell you which party most offenders belong to.

Of the 117 delinquents named by the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees election law, 73 are Democrats, 35 are Republicans, five are Libertarians, two are Independents and two are listed as having filed as both Republican and Democrat.

Among offenders: Democratic (primary) attorney general candidate Pat Murphy, Philly Democratic Sen. Vincent Hughes, jailed former House member Bill DeWeese, Philly Democratic House members Louise Bishop, Cherelle Parker and Brian Sims, former Philly Democratic House members Babette Josephs and Tony Payton and Allegheny County Democratic Rep. Dom Costa -- already "honored" as the Legislature's top taker of per diem expenses, $55,495 last session.

The good news is these slackers are properly outed.

The bad news is because of too-lenient campaign-finance rules, the fines are only $20 a-day for the first six days (not counting weekends) and $10 a-day thereafter, with a cap of $250.

Why so lenient? Well, as one Department of State officials tells me, "you know who makes the rules."

I do indeed. The very folks who then break them.

So here's a thought. Up the fines. Say $1,000 for any late filing. Sill not much in light of the state budget, I'll grant you. But, in this case, $117,000 could help hire a cop or two, a good teacher or two, or at least pay off Costa's expenses.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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