Sunday, February 8, 2015


Campaign-donor ordinance could have huge impact on local elections

82% of Mayor Henry's funds come from firms targeted by the proposal.

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 11:08 am
A proposed ordinance moving through City Council that would prohibit the city from doing business with campaign donors could have a huge impact on local elections if it becomes law. An analysis of Mayor Tom Henry's campaign finance reports shows that 82 percent of money he's raised might be targeted by the proposal.
The measure, sponsored by Councilwoman Liz Brown, R-at large, would bar the city from entering a contract with a business that has given money to the campaign of any elected city officeholder or candidate. It would also apply to donations from the owner of a company that does business with the city, the owner's spouse and the company's subcontractors.

The big donors

Such restrictions would cut off a large majority of the more than $800,000 Henry, a Democrat, has raised since he took office in January 2008. More than $700,000 of that money comes from 94 companies (or people connected to those companies) that do business with the city or could pursue such business. Most of the companies are law, engineering or architectural firms.
Henry's most generous donor among those firms over the last three and a half years has been the Carson Boxberger law firm, which gave $56,500; Indianapolis-based law firm Baker & Daniels, totaling $50,500; and American Structurepoint, an Indianapolis-based engineering firm, with a total of $48,200.
Each of those firms has done work for the city over the last year, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.
Sizable gifts from firms that do work for the city have been a staple of mayoral elections for years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW.
“This is nothing new, regardless of party affiliation,” said Downs, a Democrat who served as Mayor Graham Richard's chief of staff from 2000-02.

Business and politics: a longstanding relationship

For example, more than 40 of the same companies targeted in the ordinance and their employees who've bankrolled Henry's re-election campaign donated to Richard's mayoral race in 2003. Even 16 years ago, there was a considerable overlap among contributors to Republican former Mayor Paul Helmke, with about 10 of the same businesses and business-related donors on Henry's list that could be banned under the ordinance.
Downs said donors often give in the hopes that cities will continue doing the types of projects that provide their companies with work.
“They have a vested interest in the types of investments cities are going to make,” he said. “If they're a paving company, they want the city paving as many streets as possible.”
Of all the contributors who might be covered in the ordinance, Wisconsin-based engineering firm Donohue & Associates has gotten the most money from city work, earning just over $1.1 million since August. Donohue & Associates, its employees and others connected with it have given Henry $38,300 from January 2008 to April 2011.
Wells Fargo Insurance Services of Indiana came in next, earning $658,823 during the same period. People associated with Wells Fargo gave $16,650 toward Henry's campaign efforts. Baker & Daniels earned $639,830 for its work, while the city paid Carson Boxberger $369,762.
Road work and other construction jobs are typically put through a bidding process and awarded to the lowest qualified bidder. But professional services, such as engineering, consulting and legal work, do not go through the bidding process for contracts under $75,000.
Paula Hughes, the Republican candidate for mayor in November, also received some generous donations from lawyers and businesspeople, but few of them have done substantial – if any – work for the city in recent years.
Still, Downs noted that the four major candidates for mayor in the May primary – Henry, Hughes, Brown and Eric Doden – all accepted contributions that would violate Brown's proposed law.
It is also not uncommon for donors to give money to both a Democratic and Republican candidate in a mayoral race.
Ken Neumeister, a Republican political insider, has donated hundreds of dollars to both Hughes' and Henry's campaigns – and he has provided consulting work to the city during its move to the new Citizens Square.
“I support good politicians, and I believe Mayor Henry is a good politician, and so is Paula Hughes,” he said. “I just believe in good government.” Neumeister said he has donated to Republicans and Democrats for years.

Reaction to the ordinance

However, Hughes has expressed support for Brown's idea, implying that Henry's administration has rewarded campaign gifts with work for loyal firms.
“I understand why Councilwoman Brown is offering this ordinance,” she said in a written statement.
“Since I began my candidacy, I have talked about the need for more openness and an end to the sweetheart deals that have run rampant through this administration.”
Justin Schall, Henry's campaign manager, said businesses give to campaigns because they are “a big part of the community,” not because they hope to score jobs.
Brown's proposal, which City Council could discuss next week, has been called illegal by its critics. Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th, who is managing partner of Carson Boxberger, said the bill could face a legal challenge if it becomes law because only the state has the authority to regulate campaign finance.
Pape suggested at Tuesday's council meeting that council get a legal opinion from the Indiana attorney general before acting on the measure, but an attempt to table it was voted down. Pape has also questioned the motives behind Brown's proposal – and its election-year timing – calling it “unfair” and “partisan.”
But Brown pointed out she is not running for office, and her term on the council will expire at the end of the year.
“It's not like it's out of the blue, or I have a vendetta,” she said. “This is just sort of shedding more light on the subject.”
Schall said the motives behind donating are simple. Businesses pay a big chunk of local property taxes, so it makes sense that “they have a huge interest in who the leaders in this city are.”
“I don't think there's anything nefarious or corrupt about it,” he said. “The way people are talking, you'd think this was Chicago in the '40s.”
Schall said he thinks local politicians, both Republican and Democratic, have “a lot of integrity.”


Campaign's heavy hitters
Fifteen companies that do business with the city, their employees and others connected with those firms have contributed more than half the campaign funds Mayor Tom Henry has collected since he took office. In the last year alone, most of those firms have received in payment from the city many times their contributions to the campaign committee.
CompanyType ofbusinessContributions 1/1/08through 4/8/11Amount received from city since 8/1/10
Carson Boxbergerlaw$56,500$369,762.58
Baker & Danielslaw$50,500$639,830.02
American Structurepointengineering$48,200$209,815.48
Bonar Groupengineering$43,000$60,252.87
Donohue & Associatesengineering$38,300$1,102,107.40
DLZ Indianaengineering$34,250$774,621.50
Commonwealth Engineersengineering$34,000$59,964.93
Eilbacher Fletcherlaw$30,500$179,796
United Consultingengineering$26,000$183,642.50
Bingham McHalelaw$25,850$370,424.80
Trier Law Officelaw$21,000$272,183.30
Malcolm Pirnieengineering$20,050$354,263.50
Wells Fargo Insurance Services of Indianainsurance$16,650$658,823.50
Bose McKinney Evanslaw$16,250$8,850.50
R.W. Armstrongengineering$15,250$19,762
Sources: Campaign finance reports, city of Fort Wayne financial records

The business share of contributions

The News-Sentinel analyzed Mayor Tom Henry's campaign-finance reports from 2008, 2009, 2010 and through April 8 of this year. In that period, the mayor reported $852,890 in contributions. About 82 percent of those contributions came from companies and consultants that do business with the city or could plausibly compete for business with the city. Contributions from individuals associated with those businesses are included in the business totals.
YearTotal contributionsContributions from businessPercentage from business
2008$138,158.54$105,15076 percent
2009$286,981.44$242,51485 percent
2010$312,395.47$264,76885 percent
early 2011$115,354.55$88,04576 percent
total$852,890$700,47782 percent
To gauge the possible impact of an ordinance that would block the city from doing business with companies that contribute to candidates or holders of city offices, we identified contributions from firms that do business with the city or might compete for city business. The proposed ordinance bars doing business with companies whose “owners” – that is, owners of 5 percent or more of a company – contribute to campaigns for city office. We don't know the ownership stakes of partners in a law firm or engineers in a consulting company, so we included contributions from those businesses' employees, owners, partners and people who appeared to be spouses or domestic partners of owners, executives or employees.
We excluded contributions from
• Fort Wayne city employees
• Fort Wayne elected officials
• Political parties
• Other candidates' campaign committees
• Businesses such as advertising agencies, restaurants and video producers more likely to be employed by a campaign organization than by the city.
• Banks
• Hospitals
• Political action committees, or PACs
• Labor unions
• Contributors with the surname “Henry”

Donors near and far

An analysis of Mayor Tom Henry's campaign finance reports from 2008, 2009, 2010 and this year found 94 companies or businesses that apparently would be blocked from doing work for the city if they contribute to city political campaigns under an ordinance being considered in City Council. The 15 largest donors are detailed in a separate chart; the other 79, and their total contributions, are below. Contributions from individuals affiliated with the firms are included in those firms' totals.
ContributorLocationContributions 1/1/08- 4/08/11
Krieg DevaultIndianapolis$13,625
Ice MillerIndianapolis, Chicago$12,500
VS EngineeringIndianapolis$11,250
Schenkel ShultzFort Wayne$10,673
Black & VeatchOverland Park, Kan.$9,500
A&Z EngineeringFort Wayne$9,000
Crowe Horwath/ Crowe ChizekSouth Bend, Indianapolis$8,364
DLZ Industrial LLCChesterton$8,000
American Consulting EngineersIndianapolis$8,000
CH2M HillEnglewood, Co$7,700
Barnes & ThornburgIndianapolis$7,500
VS Investment GroupIndianapolis$7,500
Engineering TechnologiesFort Wayne$7,000
Barrett McNagnyFort Wayne$6,500
D.A. Brown EngineeringAuburn$6,000
Wessler EngineeringIndianapolis$6,000
First Group EngineeringIndianapolis$5,750
Rothberg Logan WarscoFort Wayne$5,700
Secant Group Inc.Fort Wayne$5,500
Christopher B. Burke EngineeringRosemont, Ill.$5,500
Fox Contractors Corp.Fort Wayne$4,000
Jacobi Toombs and Lanz Inc.Clarksville$3,750
Wightman Petrie Inc.Elkhart$3,600
Engineering ResourcesFort Wayne$3,255
Shrewsberry AssociatesIndianapolis$3,200
Energy Systems GroupNewburgh$3,000
Sturges Griffin TrentFort Wayne$2,500
Symbiont Science Engineering and ConstructionMilwaukee$2,050
AracadisHighlands Ranch, Co.$2,000
Fleis & Vandenbrink EngineeringGrand Rapids, Mich.$2,000
Gallant GroupFort Wayne$2,000
Greeley HansenChicago$2,000
Malcolm PirnieWhite Plains, N.Y.$2,000
GAI Consultantsbranch in Fort Wayne$2,000
CDMCambridge, Mass.$1,800
BPR CSO SolutionsArlington, Texas$1,500
Soil Solutions Co.Lafayette$1,500
Tetra Tech Engineers of OhioUpper Arlington, Ohio$1,500
MSKTD AssociatesFort Wayne$1,350
Hagerman ConstructionFort Wayne$1,250
Environmental Management Corp.Fallon, Mo.$1,000
GRW EngineersLexington, Ky.$1,000
Light & Breuning Inc.Fort Wayne$1,000
Miguel Trevino EngineeringFort Wayne$1,000
Tetra TechAnn Arbor, Mich.$1,000
Liberty ConstructionFort Wayne$970
Waggoner, Irwin Scheele AssociatesMuncie$800
Abonmarche ConsultantsBenton Harbor, Mich.$800
Burgess & NipleColumbus, Ohio$800
Haller & ColvinFort Wayne$750
Z.K. Tazian AssociatesFort Wayne$650
Angela Boerger (public relations consultant)Fort Wayne$620
Premis ConsultingChicago$600
Corydon GroupIndianapolis$500
HNTB HoldingsKansas City, Mo.$500
TestechDayton, Ohio$500
Bewley & KodayFort Wayne$500
Bose Public Affairs GroupIndianapolis$500
BriljentFort Wayne$500
CSO ArchitectsIndianapolis$500
HMB Professional EngineersFrankfort, Ky.$500
Insight CommunicationsLouisville, Ky.$500
Cripe Architects + EngineersIndianapolis$400
Gensic EngineeringAlbion$350
NAI Harding DahmFort Wayne$300
W.A. Sheets & SonsFort Wayne$300
SW Rhodes & Co.Indianapolis$270
Hoch AssociatesFort Wayne$250
R.E. Crosby Inc.Fort Wayne$250
SCO EngineeringFort Wayne$250
Brown and CaldwellIndianapolis$250
Buller, Fairman & SuefertIndianapolis$250
Everett Farm DrainageDecatur$250
Friedman & AssociatesLaPorte$250
Roger Ward EngineeringIndianapolis$250
Stephen H. Henson (engineer)Galena, Ohio$250
Open Portal SolutionsGreenwood$100
Source: campaign finance reports

No comments:

Post a Comment