Story By Ken Krayeske • 1:15 PM EST
Councilmen Luis Cotto and Larry Deutsch have drafted a resolution to limit municipal campaign contributions from contractors who do business with the city of Hartford.
The resolution states that contractors with deals worth more than $25,000 annually with the City of Hartford, including any person, business entity or nonprofit organization, are forbidden from contributing to the campaign, under penalty of losing the right to bid on contracts for a year.
The broad proposal (here) would ban principals - managers, executive directors, directors, etc - of those contractors, including members of boards of directors, managers and executive directors, spouses and their dependent children cannot donate to support a candidate or political committee.
This takes powerful people out of the political equation and limits the influence they might have. For example, this would preclude Magdalena Rodriguez, the executive director of CRT, and Fernando Betancourt, the chair of the board of directors of CRT, from contributing to a campaign run by Eddie Perez.
Although elected officials like Mayor Eddie Perez are on boards like at CRT, an exception in the proposed ordinance would not preclude him from donating to his own campaign.
The proposed ordinance is preliminary, but it has the right idea. The introduction of the ordinance reads:
Monetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of participation in our political process, but the financial strength of certain individuals or organizations should not enable them to exercise a disproportionate or controlling influence on the election of candidates. The rapidly increasing costs of political campaigns have forced many candidates to raise larger and larger percentages of money from interest groups with a specific financial stake in matters under consideration by city government. This has caused the public perception that votes are being improperly influenced by monetary contributions. This perception is undermining the credibility and integrity of the governmental process. Candidates are raising less money in small contributions and more money in large individual and organizational contributions. The integrity of the governmental process, the competitiveness of campaigns and public confidence in local officials are all diminishing.
The ordinance seeks to mirror some of the state's campaign finance law, and hold officials to the same high standards, but it doesn't provide for public financing of campaigns.
If the state didn't screw up however many years ago and limit the public financing of municipalities to a few test communities, this would be unnecessary. But if Woody had gone straight to the police, none of this would ever have happened.
It is not a perfect resolution, and deserves further consideration. At the very minimum, it is an excellent start to a debate that should have happened long ago.