On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the connections between city contracts and campaign contributions. According to their analysis 53 of the top 100 donors to city officials received contracts or special consideration from city officials. These 53 interests have donated $1.3 million to city campaigns since 2005.
While all of the elected officials in the article say there is no quid pro quo, the appearance is troublesome.
"The people of Pittsburgh -- and all of Pennsylvania -- need to be assured that public policy and contract allocation and all of these types of public services are determined based on what's best for the people of the city, and not what's best for the campaign contributions of the decision-makers," said Barry Kauffman, director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.
The next day, the City Controller announced a plan to post campaign contributions and city contracts online in a searchable format in time for the May 19th, 2009 primary. Currently, campaign finance data is filed on paper at the county elections office. A searchable online database will make these files much more accessible to the general public.
While we'd like to see the tie between big donors and politicians severed, more transparency is a good step.