WILL COUNTY PAY TO PLAY LAW BE IN OR OUT?
By Edie Johnson
At Thursday’s monthly session of the Orange County Legislature, modifications to its so-called “Pay-to-Play” law which was enacted in as an attempt to limit campaign contributions from companies that seek contracts that relate to County services was pulled. The goal was to prevent, or at least limit contractors that might benefit financially from getting county contracts in return for large donations, a back-door kind of bribery. The law has already been modified once, increasing the amount that company donors can give, and an attempt recently failed to close a loophole that excludes LLC’s from the regulation. The loophole closing modification failed in chambers. After another month of debate, legislators voted yesterday on what is being called in the Legislative Agenda a “modification”, which some said would eliminate the restriction altogether. Others wonder whether the law wouldn’t be circumvented anyway by contributions being given second-hand by family members , friends and distribution of donation amounts by various business partners so as not to exceed the prescribed limit.
When the latest batch discussions were held in oversight committees, county attorneys raised the question whether closing the LLC Loophole would be constitutional according to NY State law. Opponents countered that even if it was, New York being a “home rule” state, a municipality or county could supercede the related state code. It could however then result in a costly constitutional lawsuit.
After garnering significant cross-party support, the item was removed from Thursday’s Agenda. Sources report that while Legislative Chairman, Steve Brescia , has said he considers the issue essentially dead, minority leaders want it back on next month’s agenda, to tighten rather than loosen its criteria.