Who paid for Josh Shapiro’s inaugural party? Governor’s refusal to release donors expose gaps in Pennsylvania law – The Morning Call

HARRISBURG — REJECTED EVER Governor Josh Shapiro Revealing who paid for his glamorous inaugural bash reveals a gap in state law that allows Pennsylvania governors to escape the kind of transparency needed elsewhere. I made it

The Presidential Inaugural Commission is required by federal law to disclose donors of more than $200 to the inauguration. As in states like Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, as well as cities like New York and Philadelphia, city officials set caps on how much individual donors can contribute to the inauguration.

Many other states do not have such disclosure laws, and by donors who seek preferential treatment under state regulation, enter into contracts in front of state governments, or rely on state governments for subsidies. , millions of dollars could be secretly donated.

This raises serious concerns about conflicts of interest, said Aaron McKean. Aaron McKean is an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based nonprofit good government group.

“The overall goal here is to prevent corruption, or the emergence of corruption,” McKean said. “That’s how you build trust in elected officials and government.”

“No one is giving this money for fun,” he said.

Last week’s Shapiro bash at Lititz — tickets were $50 each, and the fundraiser sold sponsorship packages with VIP benefits — Smokey Robinson, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, Mount Joy.

When asked about the donors at another press conference last week, Democrat Shapiro made no promises to identify them.

“We intend to comply with all required reporting and disclosure laws and that is the approach we are going to take,” Shapiro said.

There is no law requiring such disclosure. But by not revealing who paid for it, Shapiro sets himself apart from his Pennsylvania predecessor.

In states that do not regulate inauguration donations, fundraising is typically set up and run by the governor’s aides, allies, or party organizations.

In some cases, governors have disclosed the original donors, sometimes reluctantly and only after enduring public criticism.

In Florida, where Republican Governor Ron DeSantis won his second term, the Florida Republicans raised money for the inaugural party, with a sponsorship package reaching $1 million. and December.

In Texas, the Texas Inaugural Commission released donors, but the Texas Tribune sued — Successfully — Get details on how $5.3 million was spent on the 2019 event.

In Shapiro’s case, he appointed the top campaign aide to run the inaugural committee, and under federal tax laws that do not require disclosure of donors or limit donations or donation amounts, the nonprofit organized as a 501c(4) organization.

Shapiro’s aide did not answer questions about why he chose not to disclose the donor’s identity.

Shapiro’s predecessor, Democrat Tom Wolfe, limited contributions to his inaugural gala to $50,000 per donor, revealing those who donated at least $500. 2019 donors included unions, energy companies, health insurers, law firms and developers.

In Shapiro’s insider fundraising pitch, fundraisers will be awarded up to Asked for a $150,000 “premier sponsor” donation. .

Money is often left in a 501c(4) bank account, and there are no laws governing how that money is spent. Without transparency, McKean said such leftover money could turn into a “slush fund” for the governor.

Over the past two decades, Philadelphia has rolled out campaign finance reforms to combat corruption. These city laws treat contributions to inaugural committees the same way they treat campaign committee contributions, requiring disclosure of who contributed how much.

Contributions are capped at $3,100 for individuals and $12,600 for businesses and organizations.

The city council members who approved the law understood that unregulated donations to the inaugural commission could circumvent the purposes of the campaign finance law restrictions, according to the city’s ethics committee that enforces the law. Executive Director J. Shane Creamer said.

“And we’re going back to the days of big donor influence, before the Campaign Finance Act came into effect,” Creamer said. Who paid for Josh Shapiro’s inaugural party? Governor’s refusal to release donors expose gaps in Pennsylvania law – The Morning Call

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