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Clark County

October 18, 2006

Jeffersonville ethics panel plans letters to donors

Letters to remind potential vendors of $200 limit

Members of the newly formed Jeffersonville Ethics Commission are working to understand the ordinance they are responsible for enforcing, even as they share concerns that potential candidates for city offices might already be seeking ways around the law’s campaign finance limits.

Companies and individuals who contribute more than $200 in a year to a candidate for a city office’s campaign are prohibited from engaging in more than $10,000 a year in city business while the official to whom they gave money is in office.

Commission Chairman Derek Spence said he “heard through the grapevine” that at least one prospective candidate for mayor next year might attempt to skirt the law by having large contributions funneled through a single individual who does not do business with the city.

“What it does is raise a big red flag,” said commission member Mike Hutt.

“The only thing we can do at this point is keep an eye on those contributions,” Spence said. “They’re going to try to find a way to get around this. We know that.”

The panel also plans to send a letter to contributors to recent city elections, outlining the new law, which was unanimously approved by City Council and signed by Mayor Rob Waiz this summer.

A potential hang-up with the letters, Spence said, is that the board has been unable to locate a 2004 campaign finance report from Waiz.

Earlier this year, Councilman Keith Fetz sent Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart a letter in which he asked Stewart to consider whether the Waiz’s failure to file a campaign finance report for 2004 represents the commission of a class B misdemeanor.

After he became aware of Fetz’s letter to Stewart, City Attorney Les Merkley said Waiz would not have been required to file a report for 2004 because he raised no money during that calendar year.

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