Complaint filed about financing in Pittsburgh mayor's race
A candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh filed a complaint with the Allegheny County Elections Division on Tuesday, alleging an opponent violated state and city campaign finance laws.
City Councilman Bill Peduto claims Controller Michael Lamb failed to file required forms and gave his campaign a large, illegal donation.
Lamb's campaign manager called the complaint “a baseless political stunt.”
“We are confident that we followed the letter and the spirit of the law,” Anne Batchelder said in an email.
Peduto of Point Breeze and Lamb of Mt. Washington are challenging Mayor Luke Ravenstahl of Summer Hill in the May 21 Democratic primary.
Peduto spokeswoman Sonya Toler said limits on campaign donations could be invalid because of $52,000 Lamb contributed to his campaign.
City ordinance limits donations to $2,000 per individual and $4,000 for political action committees, but the limits are void if a candidate gives his campaign more than $50,000, Toler said.
“We need to know if the limits are off,” Toler said. “Everyone needs to be functioning on the same level playing field.”
The complaint asks the county for clarification, but it's unlikely Peduto will receive an answer on a question about city election law, county elections Director Mark Wolosik said.
“Allegheny County cannot investigate city code violations,” he said, adding that he would answer Peduto's questions about potential state law violations after consulting with office attorneys.
Matt Harringer, spokesman for the Ravenstahl campaign, said the mayor intends to continue following the law.
“We're confident, however this matter is decided, that we're going to continue to lead in this race,” he said.
According to their latest finance reports, Ravenstahl had $909,695 in his campaign war chest, followed by Peduto with $260,942 and Lamb with $212,088.
Peduto claimed Lamb illegally transferred $62,029 from his controller's campaign fund to his mayoral fund and did not begin a political committee to run for mayor.
“We believe that there was a mishandling of money,” Toler said. “It's a clear violation of city code, and it's murky when it comes to the state.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.