How Ori Feibush’s $250K changed the council race, but not the rules

Young Involved Philly held a phone bank to try to increase young voter turnout in 2014.

Young Involved Philly held a phone bank to try to increase young voter turnout in 2014.

Anna Orso/Billy Penn
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Developer Ori Feibush has contributed $250,000-plus to his own campaign for the 2nd District Council seat, and after that news was reported the City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced campaign finance limits had doubled for the 2nd District Council race. Rather than receive a maximum of $2,900 from individuals or $11,500 from organizations, candidates for the 2nd District can receive maximum contributions of $5,800 and $23,000, respectively.

What gives? Is a rich dude causing the Board of Ethics to alter its rules in a way that would seem, well, not ethical? And will Feibush still have to return more than $200K, given that the limits are still in the low five figures?

First off, he won’t have to return the money. Michael Cooke, the director of enforcement for the Board of Ethics, told Billy Penn a candidate can contribute an unlimited amount of his or her own money.

As for a bending of rules, that’s not happening either. The city isn’t changing anything; Feibush — not exactly a popular guy because of his wealth and Point Breeze developments — is taking advantage of a city ordinance. Cooke said a race’s campaign finance limits automatically double when a candidate donates $250,000 or more of their own money.

In other words, incumbent Kenyatta Johnson is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to match Feibush’s funding.

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