By Josh LaBella
A recent ordinance put forth by Third District City Councilman Aaron Charney intends to clean up politics in West Haven. The legislation has yet to be voted on by the City Council.
In the findings and background of the “City of West Haven Municipal Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance,” Charney writes that, while monetary contributions to campaigns are a legitimate form of participation in the political process, they can be used to give some individuals or organizations “a disproportionate or controlling influence” in an election.
“Contractor contributions damage the integrity of our elections and the contracting process,” said Charney in an email. “It undermines the public’s confidence in government. I’ve noticed a trend of states and municipalities limiting these contributions. West Haven should join this trend.”
According to the council- man, the ordinance would ban contractors, prospective con- tractors and certain individuals connected with contractors from donating to a campaign if a contract they are associated with is valued at $5,000 or more.
Charney said $5,000 was chosen because state law requires such individuals to disclose if they have such a contract on contributor forms.
The ordinance covers “any elector in the City of West Haven running for the office of Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, Registrar of Voters, Treasurer, Tax Collector, Board of Assessment Appeals, or Board of Education.”
It also defines several different types of principals, or stakeholders, whom the bill targets.
They include owners, members of the board of directors, high ranking officers and those with influence over the contract process in a business which contracts with the City of West Haven, Board of Education or some combination of the two.
The ordinance lays out that no contractor or principal of a contractor shall, “Make a contribution to a candidate; Make a contribution to a political committee authorized to make contributions or expenditures to or for the benefit of such candidates; Make a contribution to a party commit- tee; Make a contribution to a candidate’s exploratory committee.”
Violators of the ordinance would see their contract voided and would be barred from the bidding process for three years.
Candidates who accept campaign donations from a person or entity defined in the ordinance would have to return the donation in full. The document also stipulated that, if passed, the provisions within it would not apply “to contributions and contracts made or created before the effective date of this ordinance.”
Charney said he is hopeful the ordinance will be voted on and passed during one of the council’s September meetings but that West Haven politics are “always difficult to make out.”
“I hope this passes and the council can take up another ordinance I presented limiting eminent domain for economic purposes,” said Charney. “Residents should not have to worry about the city selling them out to the highest bidder. I have a common theme with my proposals.”