Pay-to-play pro­hi­bi­tion con­sid­ered by law­mak­ers

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

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.

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