K. Mennem 7:17 p.m., June 17
Defending Campaign Finance Laws
On Tuesday, San Diego city councilmembers will decide whether to pay law firm Schwartz, Semerdjian, Ballard, and Cauley, an additional $75,000 for legal representation in the first amendment lawsuit filed by former city council candidate for District 1, Phil Thalheimer.
Thalheimer, along with the Lincoln Club, the Republican Party, John Nienstedt and the San Diego chapters of Associated Builders & Contractors, filed suit back in December of 2009, in response to five sections in the City’s Campaign Finance Law.
Thalheimer and company argue the city cannot limit private contributions to $500 for candidates and committees, block candidates from raising cash more than 12 months before the election. They also argue that candidates should be allowed to accept money from unions, non-profit and private corporations.
In February 2010, the plaintiffs scored a minor victory when Federal Court Judge, Irma Gonzalez, suspended laws limiting contributions to committees and political parties, as well as prohibiting candidates from using their own money on their campaign more than one year before the election.
If councilmembers approve the payment, the tally for legal fees will balloon to $315,000, more than three times what they initially authorized in early 2010.