FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Just two days after Fort Wayne council members passed an ordinance that adds transparency to contractors and the donations they make to elected officials, an undercover video has been released that may prove why the ordinance was a worthy effort.
City Councilmen Jason Arp, R-4th, and John Crawford, R-At Large, believe some city contractors are favored because they helped Mayor Tom Henry get into office. The ordinance they pushed forward Tuesday with a 6-2 vote says if a key employer, one who has at least 7.5 percent ownership of a company, donates more than $2,000 in one year to any municipal campaign in Fort Wayne, he or she is not allowed to bid for city government contracts.
Today, former city parking enforcement supervisor Colin Keeney released an undercover video from 2015 that shows City Clerk Sandy Kennedy and and office employee Patty Stahlhut reviewing Mayor Tom Henry’s campaign finance report. They’re discussing contributions allegedly solicited by Board of Works members, former Director of Public Works Bob Kennedy and current Director of City Utilities Kumar Menon. Kennedy suggests the board members were obligated by Henry to solicit funds from certain businesses.
When City Councilman John Crawford saw it, he wasn’t a fan.
“Basically you had city employees, on city time, on a city computer looking at the mayor’s campaign finance report and talking about other city employees that were going to be soliciting vendors for contributions and the people they were talking about were voting members of the board of works that actually reward those contracts to those vendors,” he said.
With Kennedy and Menon being on a board of three that approves millions of dollars in contracts every year for utility work, Crawford said the video only reinforces why he pushed for the pay-to-play law. He said there’s nothing illegal going on, but it’s about perception.
“So that just doesn’t look good,” he continued. “It just raises a question in the mind of citizens. It gives that appearance of impropriety and that’s one of the reasons a lot of people have lost some faith in government.”
City spokesperson John Perlich released the following statement: “I’ve spoken with Bob Kennedy and Kumar Menon. Both articulated to me they have not raised money on behalf of Mayor Henry during work hours. The City Administration stands behind Bob and Kumar. They have not done anything wrong.
Mayor Henry has until next Friday, Dec. 8 to decide if he’ll sign the ordinance or veto it.
“We’re disappointed by City Council’s vote on the pay to play ordinance,” Perlich said. “We continue to have concerns about the constitutionality of this ordinance. We also believe it violates state law and doesn’t protect First Amendment rights. In addition, there isn’t clarity on how the ordinance would be enforced and there’s no proof of past or current pay to play activities.”