Each week throughout the political campaign season, the Sun-Gazette will be asking candidates running for state and federal offices a single issue-oriented question.
Candidates for state offices will consider one question; those for federal offices will take a separate question.
The candidates are:
5th Congress - Glenn "GT" Thompson, incumbent, Republican, and Charles Dumas, Democrat.
10th Congress - Thomas Marino, incumbent, Republican, and Phil Scollo, Democrat
23rd state Senate - E. Eugene Yaw, incumbent, Republican, and Luana Cleveland, Democrat.
83rd state House - Rick Mirabito, incumbent, Democrat, and Harry Rogers, Republican.
84th state House - Garth Everett, incumbent, Republican.
Question: Pennsylvania is one of only five states that have no contribution limits, no public financing of elections and limited disclosure and filing requirements. Do you favor some kind of campaign finance reform? What would it be?
"I would say it would be good if they would have a limit on contributions. It would help level the playing field for statewide offices. ... I don't think any of his individual contributions are outrageous. Oil and gas companies did put a lot of money into Gov. Corbett's campaign for attorney general and then as governor. Unless, you are personally wealthy, no one can compete with that. I think it would be better if there were limits on contributions in state races."
"I have not run into any particular problem with contribution limits. I haven't heard of any particular abuses of it. Maybe I have just not been in a race that is that important. We do have pretty extensive reporting requirement that must be put on line. Anything more than $500 has to be reported within 24 hours. As far as reporting, Pennsylvania does have pretty significant requirements. I agree that the state doesn't have an amount limit. We react to things that people take issue about. We don't have any bills pending in the Senate for any kind of campaign reform."
"I think limits would not be a bad idea. On the federal side they do have limits. I'm not a big fundraiser anyway, but I think campaigns would be less expensive. In big media markets, simple state House races cost in excess of a half million dollars. That's just crazy. It is unfortunate that there is so much money. It becomes less easy for issues to get discussed. It seems to lead to more nasty campaigns. Anything we can do would be good. We could use more transparency. We do file reports, and they are accessible."
"The one thing I think we really need to do as far as campaign finance reform is transparency. I have seen a lot of campaign finance documents with things that are not explained. We need to see exactly what is spent and where, without a huge paper chase going on. If we do that, I think we will see the answers we need without clogging things up. Some things are a mystery. If we require more accountablity for where dollars are going, that would improve things."
"Yes, I do favor creating and enforcing meaningful campaign reform in order to encourage a healthy democratic system. When unlimited sums of money can be contributed to campaigns, the candidate can become beholden to donors' interests. These donors may be individuals or they may be political action committees, but unlimited campaign contributions allow them to exert a disproportionate amount of influence on the political process.
"The large sums of money required for political campaigns also discourages people from running for office and forces candidates and elected officials to spend too much time raising money. Pennsylvania currently only limits contributions by source, not by amount. Any individual may give an unlimited amount of money to a candidate's campaign. Our state bans direct contributions from corporations and labor unions. However, these entities are free to create Political Action Committees (PACs) which can contribute to campaigns from a separate account.
"In 2010, I co-sponsored House Bill 1910 which tackled campaign finance reform. It limited contributions from individuals to $500 per election. It also limited PAC contributions and connected the maximum limit to the number of donors to the PAC. Regarding disclosure, I believe it is important for citizens to know who funds political campaigns in our state. House Bill 1910 would strengthen the reporting requirements and make campaigns identify the occupation and employer of more donors. Another way to implement campaign reform is to finance campaigns with grants and state funds. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 24 states currently offer some form of public financing."
Question: Who do you think won the most recent Presidential debate? Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? Why?
"My observations are that I think Mitt Romney won. He answered all the questions, but he also laid out the failures of the Obama Administration of the last four years. This election is really about the future of the country. It's about two choices. Do we want four more years of what we just experienced with huge debt, a dangerous foreign policy where Americans are dying? Frankly, we deserve better. Governor Romney made a case of why we need change in this country."
"I think the President won. And I think he won because he was better prepared for the debate in general, and he was better prepared for the deceptive tactics Romney used. The first time it was difficult for him to decide what to do when someone gets in your face and tell lies. The second time he was encountered with that, he was prepared to deal with it. He adjusted to that particular strategy. It will be interesting in the third debate. I think this time the moderator was much better. She was much more in control of what was happening."
"Governor Romney, once again, overwhelmingly won the debate. He is the one presidential candidate that has a real plan to create millions of new jobs, cut government spending, lower energy costs, increase American energy production, lower taxes on our middle class families, and decrease our out of control debt. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has continued to mislead the American public. He has been the most anti-domestic energy president our country has ever seen. Barack Obama continues to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. We need a president who will reach across party lines, and Governor Romney will work with both parties to get our country back on the right track.
"Political pundits always love this question, but it's really not about who won or lost the debate because the purpose of the debate is to discuss issues. The presidential campaigns are debating three times while my opponent Tom Marino has only agreed to debate me once. Let's present our cases and let the voters decide just as Governor Romney and President Obama have decided to do."