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Allegheny

In race for Pittsburgh mayor, Harris questions legality of campaign finance reports

Tom Fontaine
| Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7:03 a.m.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and the Rev. John Welch are competing in the Democratic primary for mayor.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and the Rev. John Welch are competing in the Democratic primary for mayor.

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Darlene Harris did not file a campaign finance report Monday with the city's Ethics Hearing Board as required under a 2015 ordinance.

“We believe that we're in compliance with all appropriate laws and requirements. We have serious reservations about the legality and enforceability of the city ordinance,” said former Allegheny County Councilman and state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn, who is advising Harris' campaign.

“Nobody's afraid of anything here. We are not against transparency. We do have concerns about a poorly drafted piece of legislation,” Burn said.

Harris faces Mayor Bill Peduto and the Rev. John C. Welch in the Democratic primary race for the city's highest office.

The 2015 ordinance requires candidates for city office, after they officially declare their candidacies, to submit finance reports on the first business day of the month for up to five months preceding an election. It also prohibits candidates from using a campaign committee previously created to run for one city office to run for a different one.

Harris has not created a committee to run for mayor, Burn said. Her Darlene Harris Election Committee had $25,903 on hand as of Dec. 31, according to a report filed with the county's Elections Division. In a box reading “Name of Office Sought by Candidate,” Harris wrote Pittsburgh City Council District 1.

“That's not really surprising to me,” said Keyva Clark, Peduto's campaign manager. “This is the same person who said last month that she wasn't a candidate, even as she was actively seeking the (county) Democratic Committee's endorsement.”

Peduto secured the committee's nomination by a 372-245 margin.

Peduto had not filed a finance report by 4 p.m., but Clark said the campaign intended to do so by the end of the business day. He had $767,077 on hand at the beginning of March.

A report filed by Welch showed his campaign had $9,577 on hand as of Monday.

Linda King, the Ethics Hearing Board's executive manager, said the hearing board is scheduled to meet Thursday. If it determines that Harris is not complying with the ordinance, it could levy a fine against the longtime councilwoman.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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