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Limits on Pittsburgh campaign donations approved by city council

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday tentatively approved caps on campaign contributions for mayoral, city controller and council candidates.

The caps, OK'd 8-0 with one abstention, are lower than those proposed by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. There are no limits currently.

If the legislation passes a final vote Tuesday and Ravenstahl signs it, mayoral and city controller candidates beginning next year could accept maximum contributions of $2,000 from individuals and $4,000 from political action committees. The limits for City Council candidates would be half as large.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris abstained from the vote.

Ravenstahl vetoed legislation that council approved last year to limit campaign donations but has said he welcomes the latest legislation, introduced by his political rival Councilman Bill Peduto.

In a statement, Ravenstahl hailed council's decision, which he said would result in "the lowest campaign contribution limits in the history of Pennsylvania."

The legislation contains a "millionaire's exception" that nixes limits for candidates who spend more than $50,000 of their own money on campaigns. It requires the city controller's office to publish campaign contributions on the Web.

Similar legislation is before County Council but hasn't come up for a vote.

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