State Rep. Amen Brown is seeking the 2023 Democratic nomination for Philadelphia mayor (Philadelphia Tribune photo).
By Stephen Williams
PHILADELPHIA — The triggering of the “millionaire’s amendment” by real estate mogul Allan Domb, puts financial pressure on the rest of the mayoral candidates and more emphasis on the next public campaign finance reports, political observers said.
“The financial reports are a road map to what they are doing,” said Maurice Floyd, a longtime political consultant. “It will also show if they have real support or are using their own money. You want to see a number of people from all walks of life making contributions.”
Floyd is not working for any of the candidates.
Under the city’s campaign finance laws, if any candidate contributes $250,000 or more of their own money to their campaign, that triggers the doubling of the contribution limits for that race.
“The limits remain doubled even if that candidate drops out of the race, or even if that candidate’s campaign returns some or all of the money,” said Shane Creamer, executive director of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. “Once it’s done, it’s done.”
Last week, Domb’s campaign notified the board of his that his contributions went were $250,000 or more on Dec. 30, in the two business day window, as required, Creamer said.
Once triggered, the provision doubles the campaign contribution limits from individuals to $6,200 up from $3,100. For political action committees (PACs) the limits increase to $25,200 up from $12,600.
The provision is designed to try and level the playing field for candidates who cannot afford to self-fund their campaigns, Creamer said.
In December, state Rep. Amen Brown, D-10th District, joined an already crowded field of mayoral hopefuls that includes several former City Council members, Domb, Derek Green, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quiñones Sánchez; former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart; retired judge James DeLeon and supermarket owner Jeff Brown.
Domb and grocer Jeff Brown, are considered the wealthiest people in the campaign and were expected to contribute some of their own money to their campaigns, Floyd said.
“Allan’s contribution is an indication of how important it is to him that Philadelphia has new leadership that will make the city safer for everyone. Allan is choosing to put his own money into this race, and he will never be beholden to special interests,” said Jared Leopold, a spokesperson for Domb’s campaign, said in an email.
Leopold would not comment on Domb’s total contribution, but said the campaign has also received contributions from small, medium and large donors.
There are no campaign contribution limits on independent expenditure committees, known as super PACs, but they are prohibited from coordinating with any mayoral campaigns, Creamer said. The Ethics Board will be watching closely, to make sure there that the law is followed.
“If they are coordinating with campaigns, there is an opportunity for corruption and that is against the rules,” Creamer said.
To be sure, Domb’s contributions more financial pressure on the rest of the candidates in the race.
Money is important to buy television, radio and print advertisements to get a candidate’s message out or in the case of lesser known candidates like Brown, introduce the public to themselves. Brown, who wasn’t an elected official, isn’t as well-known as some of the others.
In fact, Brown is the only candidate, so far to run television commercials. Domb has started running radio commercials. Former City Councilmember Parker has put out an online biographical video.
The money is also used to hire media and political consultants and other campaign officials, like managers, office workers, and people to deliver campaign literature door-to-door.
The closing date for the last public financial campaign reports was Dec. 31 and the filing date deadline is Jan. 31.
A large group of major players in past mayoral elections such as business people, developers, lawyers and unions, have not yet declared their support — at least not publicly. The next campaign report might reveal some of their choices.
“You want to have a respectable amount of money in the bank to show that you can raise money,” Floyd said. “It lets people know that you are serious and that you have some kind of financial machine out there.”
Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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