Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Plugging up a loophole

A DN editorial:

Plugging up a loophole

Councilman-at-large Bill Green (above) and union political director Bobby Henon have accepted donations in excess of the city´s limit due to a loophole in the law.
Councilman-at-large Bill Green (above) and union political director Bobby Henon have accepted donations in excess of the city's limit due to a loophole in the law.

A DN editorial:

It surprised us to learn that the word "loophole" dates back to the 16th century, describing a small hole in the wall through which an arrow or gun might be fired. We were sure it was going to have its origins as an electrical term, since the electricians union is particularly adept at finding them.

The city's attempt to reform campaign finance rules in 2006 managed to impose a $10,600 contribution limit to candidates from a single Political Action Committee, but neglected to cover contributions from multiple PACs in the same organization. As a result, for example, IBEW's Committee on Political Education (COPE) PAC not only made a $10,000 contribution to Councilman Bill Green, but three other IBEW PACS funded by COPE also made similar contributions to Green.

The union has often been cited for finding and exploiting other campaign loopholes.

In addition to benefiting Green, the loophole has also aided Council candidate Robert Henon. Henon, who has served as the union's political director, has also received contributions from multiple IBEW PACs; his opponent, Martin Bednarek, is calling on him to return anything he collected over the $10,600 limit.

Mayor Nutter says Green should do the same. Nutter pushed for the legislation to close the loophole which finally got passed last week (after a delay by Green: can things get any more insular?)

We'd remind Bill Green of his early attempts at banning elected officials from participating in the DROP program - another Boulevard of Exploited Loopholes. We'd advise him to remember his colleagues' justification for signing up for the program - "sure it may not look good, but it's legal!" - and see how they're doing in the polls.

Or if they're still running.

Voters are becoming increasingly sensitive to bad smells; Green ought to do the math and realize that it's worth a few thousand dollars to keep smelling like a rose.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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