Former Mayor Ravenstahl pays $20K to law firm out of campaign funds
Former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl paid $20,000 in campaign funds to a Whitehall law firm that he hired to represent him during a federal investigation into city government, according to his latest campaign finance reports.
Ravenstahl, 34, of Fineview made payments of $10,000 in May and November to Bruckner Schneider and Porter.
Ravenstahl last year hired Charles J. Porter Jr., one of the firm's partners, to represent him during a federal investigation that resulted in charges against former police Chief Nate Harper and two others. Ravenstahl declined to comment on Thursday.
State law says campaign funds must be used to influence an election, but political experts said it's so broad that politicians can use the money for virtually anything, even after they've announced their intention to leave office as Ravenstahl did.
“They have used (campaign funds) literally for vacation, for clothing, for legal fees,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College.
Former state Senate Democratic Leader Robert J. Mellow's campaign committee spent more than $700,000 on his legal defense, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune. Mellow pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy and is serving a prison sentence.
Ravenstahl said in March that he would not seek re-election. He spent $233,077 from May to December and still has $340,069 left in his war chest.
He gave $110,000 to the Committee for a Better Pittsburgh, which he chaired. The committee was responsible for a series of ads during the May Democratic primary attacking Ravenstahl's political foe Bill Peduto, who is now mayor.
Ravenstahl also gave $1,000 to the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School football team, which his father coaches. He spent nearly $6,000 on dues for Shannopin Country Club and the Downtown Rivers Club and $1,244 at a state liquor store on New Year's Eve, an expense listed as “event supplies.”
“People might be critical of him, but to officially challenge him on it, that's another story,” said Gerald Shuster, professor of political communications at the University of Pittsburgh.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Security policies limit ‘insider threat’ at airports, TSA says
- Police investigating after cab driver shot in Hazelwood
- Maryland man found with missing Ohio girl in Pittsburgh motel
- Pet chiropractic more popular in Western Pa., but doubts linger
- Attorney wants evidence from South Allegheny teacher’s cellphone thrown out
- SWAT incident in Ross ends peacefully
- Pittsburgh Parking Authority approves $63M budget
- Drivers keep their cool during Parkway East’s weekend closure
- Pittsburgh police chief limits chases, orders review of policy
- Pittsburgh police chief finds use-of-force policies ‘quite satisfactory’