Committees controlled by candidates and independent committees that support candidates are not allowed to coordinate their activities, but complaints about independent committees cutting and pasting candidates’ material into ads prompted the Ethics Commission to investigate.
The proposal would end the practice of independent committees downloading candidates' campaign videos and paying television stations to run them as advertisements. City Council could take up the matter as early as September.
Unlike candidates whose campaigns can accept contributions of no more than $1,000 per election from an individual and $20,000 from a political party, many of these committees can raise unlimited funds from nearly any source, including individuals, corporations and labor unions. During this year's mayoral race, independent committees raised and spent millions more than the candidates’ own campaigns.
After Thursday's meeting, Stacey Fulhorst, the commission's executive director said her staff began working on the proposal after receiving complaints that independent committees were downloading materials from candidates’ websites during the mayor’s race and paying for their distribution as ads.
“Essentially, committees that have unlimited contributions were paying bills for candidate advertisements,” Fulhorst said.
During the meeting, Fulhorst urged commissioners not to lose site of the practical issue at hand.
“We have real-life scenarios that we are trying to address where people are literally lifting candidate videos and producing and paying for their ad time on television,” she said.