Anti-Knox groups face disclo$ure deadlines

Two political committees set up to run campaign ads against mayoral candidate Tom Knox must file reports this week identifying their contributors through yesterday, according to city and state election officials.

But the independent committees will not have to disclose additional contributions, no matter how large, until 30 days after the May 15 primary, according to Abbe Fletman, an attorney for one of the anti-Knox groups.

Friday is the deadline for candidates in the primary election to file pre-election campaign finance reports. The same deadline applies to independent committees that are trying to influence the election, the election officials said.

"If they are a political committee and they're operating in the county of Philadelphia, in support of or in opposition to any candidate, then they have to file," said Tim Dowling, the election-law specialist for the Philadelphia city commissioners. "That's the way I read the law."

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State,

Leslie Amoros, said that state lawyers agreed.

"In general, under the law, any organization or person who makes an expenditure to influence the outcome of an election in a mayoral race would need to be registered and report locally," Amoros said.

The two committees set up to oppose Knox are the Economic Justice Coalition for Truth, based in Philadelphia, and Working People for Truth, based in Washington, D. C.

Like Knox himself, who has put at least $5 million of his own money into his campaign, the independent committees do not face any contribution limits.

The other mayoral campaigns face a city ordinance that limits individual donations to $5,000 and PAC contributions to $20,000.

Both the anti-Knox groups filed papers last month registering with the Internal Revenue Service as 527 organizations - named for the section of the tax code that includes political committees.

Lawyers for the Philadelphia group, Fletman and Alex Talmadge, said they intend to meet Friday's deadline for reporting contributions and expenditures.

Talmadge said the group intends to buy TV ads opposing Knox, but has not yet reserved any time.

The Daily News was unable to reach officials of the anti-Knox group in Washington, which bought $70,000 worth of TV spots over the weekend.

Its founder, attorney Donald Dinan, active in local Democratic politics in Washington, did not return a call. Bob Bedard, who identified himself last week as a spokesman for Dinan, traded several phone messages with the Daily News.

The disclosure requirements for independent committees are weaker than those for mayoral candidates in one respect, according to Fletman:

From today until the May 15 primary, the mayoral candidates must continue to disclose contributions of $500 or more. The contributions must be disclosed to city election officials within 24 hours.

But Fletman said the 24-hour reporting requirement does not apply to independent, non-candidate committees like her client. Any contributions from today on will not have to be disclosed until 30 days after the primary, she said. *