A third so-called 527 committee has surfaced in the Philadelphia mayor's race, but the people behind this one insist they are not out to boost or bash any candidate.
Rather, television ads funded by a group called One Step Closer PAC aim to shed light on the truthfulness and impact of proposals put forth by various candidates, group president Harold J. Wright 2d said yesterday.
"Our concerns are the issues - taxes, education, civil liberties, and getting out the vote," said Wright, a social psychologist. "We don't support any candidate, and we are not affiliated with any party or any candidate."
TV station records show the group is seeking to buy $43,000 worth of air time for tomorrow and Thursday on 6ABC, and a smaller amount for those days on NBC10, CBS3 and Fox 29.
The group likely will buy more time until next Tuesday's primary, said Shawn Fordham, a longtime political aide to Mayor Street who is a consultant to the group.
The group has been registered as a political committee with the state since 2005. The One Step Closer PAC filed a report showing it paid Fordham $19,900 last year. It also listed meeting expenses at the Ritz-Carlton and reimbursements to Wright.
The group's initial $75,000 funding came from a committee that ran Street's voter-registration efforts in his 2003 reelection. That committee raised $1.8 million. It was managed by Gregory Naylor, a longtime staffer with U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, now one of the five major Democratic mayoral candidates.
Other than accepting that initial $75,000, Wright said yesterday, his group had no tie to the Naylor-led committee.
Its most recent reports show the One Step Closer PAC raised $183,000 last year and had $45,000 on hand as of Dec. 31.
Asked about money raised since then, Wright said his group, as a 527, will not have to disclose recent donors until after the primary. As a 527 - named for the relevant section of the tax code - the group can raise unlimited sums.
Wright said the group's biggest project to date has been working to increase voter participation, primarily through registration drives led by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, which was founded by music mogul Russell Simmons.