Pay-to-play prohibition considered by lawmakers
Ulster County legislators are considering setting a Dec. 13 public hearing for a proposal that would set an annual $250 limit on gifts and contributions to elected officials and candidates for county office.
A resolution to set the hearing was reviewed Tuesday during a Ways and Means Committee session, but Legislator Tracey Bartels, of Gardiner, said changes suggested by county attorneys should be considered before seeking public comment.
“In my view, there are some problems,” she said. “I also believe that the document that we got, albeit late, some of it was worth incorporating.”
Information was not immediately available on what revisions were proposed.
Bartels said the proposed legislation is important and should be approved without the risk of loopholes.
“I want to make this work,” she said. “I want to pass this. It’s a pay-to-play law and I believe in that.”
Under the proposed law, receiving contributions of goods, services and discounts would be prohibited “from any business entity who contracts with the county of Ulster if that contract must be approved and/or executed by such individual.” Amounts of contributions could not exceed a cumulative $250 during a calendar year, $500 during a two-year term in office, or $1,000 for a four-year term in office.
“It has become increasingly more common for some individuals or entities to make substantial political contributions to whose holding, or seeking to hold, elective county office who are ultimately responsible for awarding contracts for county business,” the resolution said. “It is important for, and incumbent upon, elected officials to foster public confidence in governmental operations by preventing any actual, or even an perception of, corruption.” The resolution describes a “business entity ... (as) any individual, corporation, professional corporation, limited liability company, organization, or association in the performance of any work contracted through the county. The definition of a business entity includes all principals who own 10 percent or more of the equity in the corporation or business trust, partners, officers in the aggregate, as well as any subsidiaries directly controlled by the business entity.”
A Ways and Means Committee meeting on the proposal is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in advance of a full county Legislature meeting.