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February 18, 2015

Do Philly's campaign limits help or hurt elections?

Political consultant Daniel Fee makes a case for the latter

Opinion Politics
Independence Hall Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Independence Hall.

As the mayor’s race heats up, veteran Democratic political consultant Daniel Fee looks at Philadelphia's limits on contributions to political candidates and makes the case that such a rule hinders the election process.

Fee’s commentary, which was published in NewsWorks, argues that regardless of the intention behind the city's campaign finance and ethics reform, the practice weakens democracy rather than strengthens it.

In his full commentary, found here, Fee outlines what he sees as the unexpected consequences of campaign finance limitations and suggests ways to address these issues without risking corruption.

Some of his main points in the piece include:

• Of the nine district council members running for re-election, each of whom have broad powers over their district, only one is facing a stiff challenge — and that is only because the challenger is a wealthy self-funder.

• A significant number of candidates have either declined to run for office, or already dropped out, because of the difficulties of fundraising under these limits.

• Remaining candidates spend hours every day asking for contributions rather than talking to voters about issues.