Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Pennsylvania campaign finance reform in jeopardy

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A search using our Influence explorer, for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, reveals that between 2003-2010, the governor received a total $32,131,191 in donations.  The tool, that provides itemized contributions reported by political candidates to the Federal Election Commission and state agencies, gives you details of donations down to the exact change. And where as some may not care about the loose change, it is the unlimited money flowing in from individuals and Political Action Committees, that prompted Gov. Corbett’s predecessor, Gov. Ed Rendell, to put campaign finance reform, top on his do list. But not before he raised over $30 million in his 2006 re-election. The back peddling on the state’s campaign finance reform has forced several groups including the Pennsylvania Association for Government Relations to rally behind enforcing limits on campaign contributions. Unfortunately, some officials are  not taking the law seriously…

  • Campaign finance laws are starting to take precedence in some states, but according to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s 9th District city councilor, Ricky Burgess, that doesn’t matter. Burgess recently failed to file his campaign finance report on the grounds that no one observes the laws controlling them and is trying to change those laws: he’s introduced legislation that would repeal Pittsburgh’s campaign finance reforms. In Chris Potter’s opinion, the councilman’s act of protest undermines the law, especially when there is no proof that the law is meaningless. You can check out Potter’s suspicions of conflict of interest in his chronicle of the city’s controversial campaign finance reforms on Slag Heap.
  • Oregon’s reputation for making public records available is set to get even better. The state’s Attorney General John Kroger has proposed a new bill that would centralize records laws and remove close to 100 existing exemptions. The Senate Bill 41 will subject state and local government agencies to deadlines for submitting public records while limiting the fee charged to access these records. Dave Fiskum adds that this may cause controversy, especially among the League of Oregon Cities, which is already expressing concern about being able to meet the deadlines. Read how opposers of this bill — in retaliation — have proposed Senate Bill 346 and House Bill 2043 that will bar media from accessing 911 calls and create further exemptions respectively on Oregon Insider.
  • In a recent video, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking for a “sweeping ethics reform” to require legislators to disclose who they represent before the state. In a call to clean up Albany and restore public trust in government, Cuomo reached out to New Yorkers and urged them to ask their legislators to pass ethics reforms that clarify who they are working for and for how much. Only then will the state regain its history of being diligent in fighting corruption. Jon Campbell shares more of the governor’s web video and transcript on Politics on the Hudson.
  • A new bill that will reduce the fine for violating public records act — dropped from $5 dollars to $0 per day — has been approved by Washington’s Governor, Chris Gregoire. Supporters of this bill have praised it saying it will eliminate the insincere use of the state’s Public Records Act while others, including the Washington Coalition for Open Government, opposed it saying public agencies would not have to pay any fees if they followed the law. The Governor, who is a renown open government advocate, stands by the bill and feels that public agencies should not pay any fees because this burden ultimately falls on the tax payer. Political reporter Jared Paben’s post invokes interesting comments including a concern that violators of the act should be given at least a slap on the wrist instead of a free pass. More on Politics Blog.
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