The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, May 01, 2019 11:46 am

Verbatim: John Crawford reacts to lawsuit challenging pay-to-play Ordinance

The following was released on Wed., May 1, 2019:

(FORT WAYNE, IN) – At a press conference at Allen County GOP headquarters this morning, City Councilman At-Large John Crawford, a candidate in the Republican mayoral primary, reacted to the lawsuit filed April 25 by a Fort Wayne construction company challenging the city’s pay-to-play ordinance.

The ordinance, which Crawford co-authored with Councilman Jason Arp (R-4th District) in 2017, prohibits vendors from bidding on city contracts if they contributed more than $2,000 a year to the political campaign of someone with responsibility for awarding contracts.

Crawford said the ordinance was written carefully to avoid conflicting with campaign finance law and is found under the city’s purchasing ordinance. He said he expects the measure to pass legal muster and said it has already limited large political contributions from businesses, such as attorneys, to local candidates.

“The ordinance is not perfect and cannot stop all money influence in government,” said Crawford. “But it is already helping and will restore more of citizens’ faith that city government contracting is not geared to insiders and crony capitalism.”

“The city can be sued for any new controversial ordinance,” said Crawford. “Just because you’re sued, doesn’t mean you’ll lose. City Council passed the first smoking ordinance for restaurants in 1996; we were sued in federal court, state court and local court. Attorneys for the litigants all said we were wrong and that the ordinance was illegal. But our ordinance was upheld at all levels and we won all the lawsuits. Because of fighting to do something that was right and later proved as legal, about 50 people a year did not die after that of secondhand smoke effects of heart attack and cancer.”

“When I am elected mayor, any appearance of any favoritism in awarding contracts for city business will cease on January 1, 2020,” Crawford continued. “Extreme competition will be instituted in the process to select providers for all city business. Best price and quality will be the only factors considered. The pay-to-play ordinance will result in lower-cost contracts, more competition, more respect for city government and will save millions of dollars for Fort Wayne citizens.”

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