Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contribution Limits Dropped in Mayor Race Udge Waives Rules, Says Donations from Lamb Triggered Exemption

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contribution Limits Dropped in Mayor Race Udge Waives Rules, Says Donations from Lamb Triggered Exemption

Article excerpt

The fundraising rules in the Pittsburgh mayor's race are back to this: There are no rules.

An Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge voided the new contribution limits Wednesday covering the race this year, saying excess contributions by a former candidate triggered their suspension.

The ruling by Judge Joseph James means all the remaining candidates in the intriguing race could raise unbounded funds from rich individuals or political action committees over the next seven weeks, instead of being limited to just $2,000 or $4,000, respectively, under city law.

City Councilman Bill Peduto, while differing with the judge's ruling, said he expected donations in "five figures" by the end of Wednesday afternoon and would use his money to start television advertising within 10 days. He could lean on new funding from his ally Rich Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County executive, while other mayoral candidates could seek their own limitless giving.

"We played by the rules, the rules that were there. Other candidates in this race chose not to," Mr. Peduto said. "Now that the judge has made the decision that says there are no limits, now we'll campaign under those rules."

Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner said the campaign finance law, once championed by Mr. Peduto, "was poorly written. The judge said so, and it doesn't apply to this election." He said the court battle initiated by the councilman "was a distraction in this campaign, and that distraction is over."

Other Democrats seeking the party nod in the May 21 primary are state Rep. Jake Wheatley of the Hill District and political newcomer A.J. Richardson of Sheraden.

Mr. Wheatley said he would abide by the decision and raise whatever he can, but would make approving a stronger campaign finance bill a top priority as mayor.

The judge's ruling came in a hearing on Mr. Peduto's request for an injunction barring Mr. Wagner from using some $350,000 collected during previous state campaigns. Judge James initially ruled that Mr. …

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