Cincinnati Ends Political Contributions by Developers in Response to Corruption Spree

Corruption is a common companion to the development approvals process—Cincinnati is no exception. But Cincinnati is attempting a new approach to conflicts of interest.

1 minute read

October 31, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The exterior of Cincinnati City Hall on a sunny day.

Max Herman / Shutterstock

Madeline Ottilie reports on a drastic response to a corruption scandal rocking the Cincinnati City Council: a ban on developer political contributions.

Ottilie reports that a law approved last week by the Cincinnati City Council bars elected officials "from accepting or asking for donations from developers that have business before council."

Three city councilmembers faced federal indictment on corruption charges in 2020:  Tamaya Dennard, Jeff Pastor, and PG Sittenfeld.

Among the large cities in the United States, only Los Angeles rivals Cincinnati with the breadth and depth of corruption indictments in recent years. In October, Los Angeles Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas became the latest to face federal indictment in that city, but Los Angeles has yet to take such drastic action to quell the recent spate of corruption charges.

All three corruption charges in Cincinnati involved the development process, according to Ottilie's article, and accordiing to sources cited in the article, the city now has a reputation as a "pay-to-play" government. Liz Keating, Cincinnati council member and candidate for reelection, is quoted in the article saying the council should have gone further in limiting the potential for corruption in the development approvals process. The source article includes more detail about the limits of local power in limiting political donations.

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