Wednesday, May 18, 2011

County Bill Would Bar Vendors' Campaign Donations

An Allegheny County Councilman wants to tighten the rules on contractors' campaign contributions for County races.

District 1 Councilman Matt Drozd says when political candidates accept money from vendors that do business with the county, there can be impropriety and unfairness in awarding future contracts.

Drozd says while the current law prohibits candidates from asking contractors for money, the contributions can still be accepted if they're offered. He says that can lead to the candidate awarding the vendor a contract as a favor when he or she is elected.

Drozd says his bill would bar candidates from accepting those campaign donations altogether. He says he's bringing it up for a full vote now because of inaction from his fellow Council Members.

"I'm willing to let this go into committee, but it's been sitting in committee, and it's particularly buried," says Drozd. "And you know what? I'm going to say it was the prior [Council] President's job to bring it out, and guess who got a lot of contributions in this last campaign. I would ask him, 'How many of those were vendors within Allegheny County?'"

Drozd says although campaign contributions can be considered a form of free speech, they are often unethical and unfair to taxpayers. He says when an elected chooses a contractor as a favor rather than by merit, it can result in a higher cost for the county.

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