Knox camp, urged to limit spending, rolls its eyes

Tom Knox's response to a request that he limit his mayoral campaign spending?

He's laughing all the way to the bank.

In an opinion piece Sunday in the Inquirer, Zack Stalberg, chief executive of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, called upon millionaire Knox to cap his campaign spending voluntarily.

"A candidate's ability to self-fund can make him seem more honest and independent, especially if the notion is well-sold via sound bites," Stalberg wrote. "But integrity and the ability to accumulate great wealth are not necessarily related qualities."

The Knox camp yesterday said the former insurance executive had no plans to rein his spending.

"No, Tom is running against big-boss politics, which has an unlimited budget here in Philadelphia," spokesman Brad Katz said.

Knox, who has put millions of his personal fortune into his campaign, has vastly outspent his rival candidates, whose fundraising is restricted by a city campaign-finance law. After spending millions on airtime for his television ads, Knox is now leading the field, according to last week's Daily News/Keystone Poll.

Stalberg also asked Knox to pledge to give money to his campaign rather than just lending it, noting that as mayor Knox could spend his time in office fundraising to repay himself.

When Knox first set up a campaign account, he provided $5 million, which was listed as a loan.

Katz said Knox would not fundraise to repay his initial loan. He also noted that Knox recently gave $2 million to the campaign as a contribution, not a loan.

The campaign-finance law restricts contributions to $2,500 per individual each year and $10,000 per political-action committee, now doubled because Knox's entry triggered a "millionaire's amendment." *