Musser Outfoxes Filippi

(April 12) Upland Councilman Gino Filippi this week was on the cusp, or so it appeared, of achieving a significant breakthrough in preparing for his future political efforts.
Previously, the city had adopted campaign contribution limits that restricted elected officeholders from receiving more than $2,000 from any single donor per four-year election cycle.
In Upland, all elected officials – the mayor, city council members and treasurer – are elected to four-year terms.
Before the campaign contribution ordinance was passed in 2011, Filippi garnered election to the city council in 2010. In 2012, with two years yet remaining in his term as councilman, Filippi ran for mayor against incumbent Ray Musser. Also in the race was Musser and Filippi’s council colleague, Debbie Stone.
Filippi proved to be by far the most prolific fundraiser, taking in $91,722.47 to fuel his mayoral campaign. Musser brought in a total of $27,625.56. Stone ran her campaign on $4,748 in donations. A number of Filippi’s donors provided him with money that neared or equaled the $2,000 per entity donation limit. Despite his fundraising prowess, Filippi lost to Musser.
In 2014, Filippi has intentions of running for reelection to the council again, perhaps positioning himself for another mayoral run in 2016.
In recent months, Filippi has posited an argument that the spirit of campaign contribution reform involved the intent of curtailing the influence of donors per election rather than per four-year term. In this way, Filippi asserted, those seeking or holding council office who are also vying for mayor two years after a council run, should be eligible to receive $2,000 per donor for each election, for the council and for mayor.
Musser did not see it that way, arguing that the $2,000 contribution limit from any particular donor was intended to limit the donor’s influence over the politician, or politicians, in question. For that reason the $2,000 restriction should stay in place, Musser asserted, regardless of whether the politician runs just once every four years or twice every four years.
In March, the city council took up the issue but failed to come to a clear consensus, and tabled the matter to give the city attorney and the council advisory committee an opportunity to review the regulations to determine what the advisory committee, which had recommended the limitations to the council in 2011, had intended.
This week the city council was provided with the input of the advisory committee and the city attorney which basically called for Upland’s campaign contribution ordinance to impose the limit per election.
A divided council, with Glen Bozar and Brendan Brandt joining with Filippi, voted to direct the city attorney to redraft the ordinance, changing the limitation to each election a candidate is involved in, so that the proposed changed ordinance can be brought back for a vote at a later meeting.
At that point, it appeared that Filippi had obtained an outcome that was in keeping with him being able to exploit his fundraising talent  in future elections.  But sly Mayor Musser, who has been a member of the city council since 1998, utilized his control of the gavel and mastery of parliamentary procedure to outfox Filippi.
Before moving on to the next order of business, Musser inquired of the city attorney whether he could make a motion at that point to reduce the contribution limit to go into the newly drafted ordinance. He was told that he could indeed do so. Thereupon, Musser made a motion to reduce the contribution limit from $2,000 to $1,000. That vote passed by a 3-2 margin, with Musser, Stone and Bozar supporting it.
In this way, the redrafted campaign limitation ordinance to be considered by the council will have the effect of attenuating one of Filippi’s major political assets, that is, his ability to draw substantial money to his electioneering efforts.
Musser, who of late has been belittled and lampooned by his critics and political foes as a doddering yokel who is  unable to keep up with the pace of events or his younger council colleagues, showed with his adroit maneuver that he remains a political force to be reckoned with and even faster  on his parliamentary feet than those decades his junior.
Asked what he thought of being outmaneuvered by Musser with his add-on ploy, Filippi noted that the actual redrafted ordinance has yet to come before the council and he hinted that there will still be an opportunity to liberalize the campaign contribution law.
“This isn’t over yet,” Filippi said.

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