Say what you want about the progressive cities of San Francisco, Seattle or Portland, it was St. Petersburg, Florida that stepped up and cast a nationally-noted vote to limit contributions to political action committees. Say what you want about council idealism and naiveté, this 6-2 vote was, in effect, a well-needed rebuke to the game-changing Citizens United decision that removed restrictions on outside groups influencing elections. St. Petersburg has become a microcosm of what has to happen electorally before our democracy erodes any more. The local law will cap–at $5,000–what an individual can give to PACs involved in St.Pete elections. Moreover, it will also demand more transparency from donors.
We know that money talks. The St. Pete City Council just said that money, 2010 Supreme Court majority notwithstanding, is not speech.
This will take some time–and, yes, money–to play out in the court system. But somebody had to courageously take this principled stand for common sense for the common good. And here’s hoping all those activist organizations that preach how democracy desperately needs campaign finance reform will now step up and help underwrite whatever the Defend Our Democracy ordinance costs. We know what Citizens United has already cost us.