By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The effect of so-called “dark money,” in Philadelphia elections may now be muted thanks to a measure signed into law this past week by Mayor Nutter.
Dark money is spending by an independent political action committee that is ostensibly not affiliated with the candidate who is being promoted. The United States Supreme Court has said that cities and states cannot limit this sort of spending. Mayor Nutter though signed into a law a measure crafted by the city’s Board of Ethics that forces the independent PACs to more fully and more frequently disclose their sources of money.
“At least we’ll know for the next ad that goes up, beyond the disclaimer that’s on the bottom of the TV screen, who is giving the money,” said Nutter.
Dark money became a big issue in this past Spring’s Mayoral Primary. At least three independent PACs reportedly spent millions in support of certain candidates, primarily State Senator Anthony Williams and the eventual primary winner, former City Councilman Jim Kenney. Nutter points out that the new law will now be in effect for November’s general election.
“The public then gets to evaluate the candidate not only on what they’re talking about, but who’s supporting them, even in an unconnected way,” Nutter added.
The new law had been overwhelmingly approved by City Council this past June, and Council President Darrell Clarke appeared at Nutter’s bill signing.
“This will put people in a position to cast their vote based on understanding all aspects of a particular person’s candidacy,” Clarke said.
The measure applies to any person, political committee or non-profit that spends more than $5,000 within 50 days of an election. They would face four reporting deadlines within the 50 day pre-election period, and they would have to list all funding received and expenditures made, not just the spending that triggered the filing.
In addition, the law would cover not just spending by a person, PAC or non-profit in support of a candidate, but also spending that attacks another candidate in that election.