St. Pete council set to debate 'Defend our Democracy' ordinance

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 17:40:43-04

People in St. Petersburg are getting ready to discuss a controversial ordinance aimed at getting big money out of politics.

“People don’t want to be bought, and St. Pete, we don’t want St. Pete to be for sale,” Karen Lieberman with American Promise said.

Lieberman is passionate about keeping big money and foreign money out of St. Pete. So passionate, she's written multiple letters, including one Wednesday.

“People who get into office now are the people who are supported by big money and they and they don’t support things that are good for the communities,” Lieberman said.

About 500 letters arrived at St. Pete's city council, ahead of Thursday's vote on the "Defend our Democracy" ordinance.

“We have a fighting chance of setting a precedent that could wave across the country,” councilman Karl Nurse said.

Nurse is in favor of adopting the ordinance, despite fears the city could face legal backlash.

“We call ourselves leaders and sometimes you’ve got to lead and sometimes that means you have to be first,” Nurse said.

Councilman Steve Kornell said, "I do believe that Citizens United is bad public policy and allowing large sums of money to come into our politics in some cases with no accounting for it. I think that’s horrible public policy but our attorneys have advised us that enacting the ordinance being proposed tomorrow will put the taxpayers in a legally liable position for up to 2 million dollars and I am not willing to take that risk with tax payer money."

“The mayor has great concern about our city’s exposure on this issue, but has also long been supportive of getting big money and big business out of our elections and has no intention of vetoing this ordinance should it pass,” Mayor Rick Kriseman's spokesperson, Ben Kirby, said.

“It’s just, just St. Pete politics but it’s what happens afterwards that will be so important for the country,” Lieberman said.

A group is meeting to talk about the ordinance starting at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.