Open books 

Last year the city saw unprecedented spending on City Council elections on behalf of independent expenditure groups that attempted to shield their financial backers, a situation made possible by the 2010 U.S.

Supreme Court case, Federal Election Commission v. Citizens United.

The proposal, passed on to council from that body’s legislative committee, supported a state legislative or Ethics Commission mandate for more disclosure in the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, or PSEA, which regulates local elections. In January the commission sent the Legislature a recommendation for removal of the PSEA from the commission’s purview.

right Pat Ryan

However, the council resolution did have some push back. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid said the measure was too weak.

“I don’t think anybody is going to put a lot of stock in this at all. This is so vanilla. I don’t think they’ll even care,” said Shadid, who ended up voting for the measure. “The PSEA’s completely broken. We have no enforcement mechanism whatsoever. We’re floating adrift at sea. That’s the real problem.”

Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said he did not support the resolution because what could emerge from the Legislature might be something totally different from what city officials would want.

“I don’t want to ask for an apple and get a banana. I think before I feel comfortable with a resolution supporting anything the Legislature does, I would like to see what they propose,” Ryan said. “I would like to see us wait. I have no problem with the concept.”

The resolution passed 8-1, with Ryan dissenting.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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