Tabled Again: Fort Wayne Campaign Contributions Ordinance

By John W. Davis

August 2, 2011 Updated Aug 2, 2011 at 11:26 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Table again. Fort Wayne City Council pushed back discussion of a controversial political campaign contributions law.

The proposal was originally aimed at stopping companies and major owners from making campaign contributions and bidding on and winning city contracts.

However, the proposal was tabled because some council member are not sure the proposal is legal.

Therefore, council members voted 5 to 4 Tuesday night, to table the ordinance until members receive clarification from the state of Indiana.

"If the Attorney General says that this legislation is illegal then we're wasting our time," said Democratic Councilman Glynn Hines.

But if he says we need to proceed, then we'll proceed. But I do respect the opinion of the Attorney General,"
continued Hines.

Opponents have previously said that the law is not legal because the City of Fort Wayne does not have the authority to rewrite state law.

Meanwhile, Democratic Councilman John Shoaff and Republican Councilwoman Liz Brown were ready to make a few amendments Tuesday night.

Shoaff wants the law to go into effect January 1, 2012, so the law does not effect the current November election cycle.

Brown, the ordinance's author, told Indiana's NewsCenter she had two amendments.

She no longer wants all contributions to be illegal.

Only those with a monetary contribution over 500 dollars.

Brown also update her bidding section of the ordinance.

She only wants to go after no-bid contracts, which are awarded by city leaders without competition.

Brown said that when a big campaign contributor wins one of those contracts it "raises the appearance of impropriety."

"You would think that we could at least have a discussion and an up and down vote," said Republican Councilwoman Liz Brown.

"But obviously there's a lot of information out there that people don't want to come before the public which is unfortunate. Whether or not it passes, it's certainly I think a valid bill to be discussed. Hopefully we'll have that chance next week," continued Brown.

Meanwhile, if the advisory opinion from Attorney General Zoeller is released soon, expect a discussion next Tuesday.

However, if the opinion is not released, residents expect another close vote, possibly tabling the issue for yet another week.

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