The controversy over corporate contributions doesn’t seem to be going away.
Today, The Gazette’s Editorial Department wrote that city officials are downright “wrong” about corporate contributions and that “there is little room for dispute.”
Past and present candidates for public office have been accepting corporate contributions for years. But this month, City Clerk Kathryn Young said corporations are prohibited from making campaign contributions directly to candidates. When asked why the practice had been allowed in the past, Young said it wasn’t her job but the public’s to scrutinize campaign finance reports.
Today’s editorial states that mayoral candidate Steve Bach, who was named in a complaint filed by Brian Bahr, who is also running for mayor, hired a law firm with attorneys that specialize in election law to research the issue and “clarify the facts.”
“Attorneys John Cook, Jeff Dolan and others determined that nothing in state or city law prohibits direct corporate contributions in a Colorado Springs city election,” the editorial states.
This morning, Councilman Sean Paige sent an e-mail to Mayor Lionel Rivera and the other council members asking that Young and City Attorney Patricia Kelly “again present their cases in support of their interpretation of the law.”
“I also think we need the city attorney to respond to the information presented in the letter from Steve Bach’s attorneys,” Paige wrote.
Paige said this morning that his colleagues will probably ignore the idea.
“This proposal is likely to get snuffed, like a lot of mine do, but I think it’s worth a try,” he said.
Here’s the full text of Paige’s e-mail to his colleagues:
Mayor Rivera and colleagues:
Information presented in this Gazette editorial – http://www.gazette.com/opinion/city-113129-contributions-unlawful.html — indicates that we still may not have a definitive ruling on the issue of corporate campaign contributions, which can only serve to prolong the controversy, distract from other issues, add to uncertainty for candidates and raise more embarrassing questions about the quality of advice we’re getting from staff. Though time is short, my suggestion is that we use next week’s combined meeting to help resolve this issue, if we can.
I would ask that the city clerk and city attorney be asked to again present their cases in support of their interpretation of the law, followed by council questioning and discussion. I also think we need the city attorney to respond to the information presented in the letter from Steve Bach’s attorneys. Public comments should also be taken, if at all possible. The Gazette suggests that council then take-up a resolution signaling our interpretation of the law.
I’m not sure how this would work, procedurally-speaking, but the issue is important enough that we ought to try and do something. The city contributed to this confusion; it’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to help clear things up. I’m aware that pulling this together in such short order may raise procedural questions, but I feel strongly, as a candidate and sitting council member, that city leadership has an obligation to address this issue now. Our failure to do so will only prolong the controversy and the uncertainly — and it could cast an unnecessary shadow over the entire election process.
I’m obviously not asking that we embark on a hasty re-write of the law, based on what we learn — just that we step forward as a group to help finally bring clarity and closure to the situation, if we can.
Look forward to your thoughts and feedback,