FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Chelsa Wagner
Wagner: Reduce big money influence in PA government
HARRISBURG, July 12 – State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-Brookline, today introduced legislation that would update Pennsylvania's campaign finance laws for the first time since the Watergate era.
"When a state budget passes that slashes education and critical services while gas drillers and the biggest corporations go untouched, it is clear the special interests have too much power," Wagner said. "It's long past time to end Pennsylvania's status as having one of the weakest campaign finance laws in the nation."
Wagner said Pennsylvania currently places no limits on campaign contributions from individuals or Political Action Committees (PACs). The Philadelphia Daily News recently reported that Gov. Tom Corbett received $835,720 from drilling industry insiders during his 2010 campaign.
"It is clear that big business has bought access to policymakers that average Pennsylvanians don't get," Wagner said. "A great number of reforms that are critical to Pennsylvania families will simply remain out of reach as long as big money donors can dictate to elected officials."
Wagner said her legislation (H.B. 1779) would limit individual contributions to campaigns for the General Assembly, Common Pleas courts, and county and local offices to $500 per election cycle, and tie contributions to statewide campaigns to federal contribution limits (currently $2,400 per cycle). PAC contributions would be limited based on the number of donors to the PAC, with a cap of $5,000. No individual would be permitted to contribute more than $25,000 total to candidates, PACs, and party committees each year.
Each of these limits would increase every two years at the rate established by federal campaign finance law.
"Currently, Pennsylvania is one of just five states with no campaign contribution limits," Wagner said. "When I speak with legislators from other states they're shocked by the lax requirements in Pennsylvania. There is no question that this antiquated policy must change."
In addition, Wagner said her bill would ban personal use of campaign funds by candidates, require public contractors to disclose contributions by company officials, and require additional campaign expense reports by candidates.
"Pay-to-play and catering to big money donors has unfortunately become ingrained in our politics," Wagner said. "My bill contains common sense measures to return power to the average Pennsylvanians we were elected to represent."