Mayor rejects Council's 'pay to play' measure, warning it won't - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Mayor rejects Council's 'pay to play' measure, warning it won't stand up to legal challenge

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday indicated he will veto a so-called "pay-to-play" ordinance, telling City Council members to rework the measure into something that could withstand a legal challenge.

The Council last month passed a proposal that would ban companies and their leaders from bidding on city contracts if they donate more than $2,000 to a candidate for City office. Those who supported the new rule said certain Fort Wayne contracts might be awarded as favors for political donations made to municipal campaigns.

But Henry, in a letter to the Council, said the ordinance went too far, claiming it would violate the Home Rule Act (which restricts local government from regulating campaign finance matters), state law and the U.S. Constitution.

In his letter, Henry writes, "although I believe your intent to be admirable, the ordinance seems to be flawed in several specific areas... One of my biggest concerns is at a minimum the ordinance could be challenged in court for a determination that the City exceeded its authority... (and) would have to pay damages to the plaintiff as well as pay the plaintiff's attorney's fees. This is worrisome, to say the least."

Henry said he is "formally requesting (the Council) revisit the ordinance, make the appropriate adjustments and return the proposed statute to me for further examination."

ABC21 has reached out to members of the Council for reaction. A two-thirds majority of the 9-member Council is needed to override a mayoral veto.

The original vote was 6-to-2, with one member absent. The ordinance was sponsored by Councilmen Jason Arp, (R-4th) and John Crawford (R-at large).

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