Soliciting Some Campaign Donations Could Be Illegal Under New Proposal
A proposal at Cincinnati City Hall would make it a misdemeanor for elected officials to solicit some campaign donations, specifically from developers or others with current city business.
Interim Council Member Steve Goodin says San Francisco and dozens of state legislatures have done the same.
"If you are seeking business with the city in any form – a zoning variance, incentive package, whatever it may be – city council members, mayors, candidates, should not be able to solicit you for campaign contributions while that's going forward," Goodin said.
Goodin says he'd like to ban the donations themselves — putting responsibility on the donors as well — but doing that could violate the First Amendment. He says this proposal gets to the heart of recent corruption issues at City Hall. According to investigators, all three council members indicted on federal charges last year asked developers for money.
"We have to take ourselves seriously again, particularly coming out of the arrests and things that we have seen, sadly, here at City Hall," Goodin said.
Goodin says he's drafting an ordinance with city attorneys and it should be ready within a month.
A new development reform panel is also considering developer campaign donations. The panel may include the topic in recommendations for reform in August. The panel is holding a public hearing Friday, April 9.
Goodin announced Wednesday he plans to run for election to hold on to the seat he was appointed to. Hamilton County Probate Judge Ralph Winkler chose Goodin to replace Jeff Pastor when that council member accepted a suspension due to allegations he accepted $55,000 in bribes.
Goodin is planning several other proposals, including an ordinance to allow council to expel and/or censure a member credibly accused of misconduct.
The "Trust In Local Government: WVXU's Public Integrity Project" examines Cincinnati politics and the individuals who shaped it. Read more here. Support for this project comes from The Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation.