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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017 1:00 am

Council OKs bill limiting contributions

Mayor may veto measure that targets contractors

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday barring contractors from bidding on city projects if they donate more than $2,000 a year to an elected official's campaign. 

Mayor Tom Henry is considering vetoing the ordinance, which passed by a 6-2 vote.

Councilmen Geoff Paddock, D-5th, and Glynn Hines, D-6th, opposed the measure sponsored by Councilmen Jason Arp, R-4th and John Crawford, R-at large. Councilman Michael Barranda, R-at large, opposed the ordinance at the council's Nov. 21 meeting but was absent for the final vote Tuesday.

Arp and Crawford were joined by Councilmen Paul Ensley, R-1st; Russ Jehl, R-2nd; Tom Didier, R-3rd; and Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, in supporting the ordinance. 

“I think this will hopefully restore more faith in our local government because there's been a lot of division and loss of faith in our institutions across the country in the last few years,” Crawford said.

The proposal would inhibit any company or company employee who owns more than a 7.5 percent stake – as well as their spouses and live-in children – from donating more than an aggregate $2,000 per calendar year to an elected city official's re-election campaign. That means the limit during a typical four-year election cycle is $8,000. 

Similar to a 2011 proposal put forward by then-City Councilwoman Liz Brown, the Crawford-Arp ordinance raised concerns among officials and attorneys who believe it unconstitutional. City Attorney Carol Helton and Scott Chinn, a partner at the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, argued previously that the ordinance could violate state and federal law.

Among the measure's supporters was former City Councilman John Shoaff, a Democrat, who said support for the measure should be bipartisan. 

Henry has expressed opposition to the proposal. He reiterated that opposition in a statement late Tuesday through spokesman John Perlich. In that statement, Perlich did not rule out the possibility of a veto.  

“We continue to have concerns with the pay to play ordinance as we outlined last week,” Perlich said. “We'll take the time we're allotted to determine if there will be a mayoral veto.”