Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto has gone to the county elections board to challenge Democratic rival Michael Lamb's year-end 2012 finance report, alleging Lamb has violated the city's campaign finance law.
Peduto says Lamb violated a provision barring candidates from giving their campaigns more than $50K (Lamb contributed $52K before refunding himself the extra $2K), and should not have been able to shift $62K from his existing city controller account to the mayoral race.
An interesting twist: Peduto wants the county Elections Board to look into the matter, and it's largely controlled by his ally Rich Fitzgerald (who serves on it with Democrat John DeFazio and Republican Heather Heidelbaugh). UPDATE: Peduto's complaint says the board is supposed to ask a three-judge panel to look into the allegations.
The complaint says if Lamb went over the $50K threshhold finance limits for all candidates, as according to the city campaign finance law, should be doubled. UPDATE: Actually it says the campaign limits could be blown up entirely for the mayor's race.
The petition says Lamb could be subject to a $2,000 fine as well.
UPDATE 2: This is uncharted territory for the law, which we noted back in 2011 is "unenforceable and toothless." The reason is the county never adopted its own finance law as planned, and the city ordinance can't compel a county office to play referee. "We have no legal authority to investigate alleged violations of a city of Pittsburgh ordinance," elections department director Mark Wolosik told us back then.
City candidates instead took complaints during the 2011 primary season to the city's (equally worthless) ethics commission.
UPDATE 3: Lamb spokeswoman Anne Batchelder replied: "This is a baseless political stunt. We are confident that we followed the letter and the spirit of the law."
UPDATE 4: On enforceability, one of the complaints (that Lamb did not form a legit mayoral committee, on page 8 of filing) is a state Election Code matter so the Peduto team should have a toe-hold there even if the city law is weak.