Committee wants to close loopholes around city council fundraising

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A proposal to clarify the rules around city council members and fundraising events which benefit third parties needs more work, according to a council committee. 

The finance committee looked at the idea on Tuesday morning.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said no councillors have done anything wrong in helping raise money for charity or community groups but having some rules will help protect all council members in the future.

"It's about the overall support of the councillor and the councillors' image, or the councillors' perception in the community," said Nenshi.

Third parties need definition

The proposed policy calls for council members to file an annual fundraising statement. Donations to councillors for organizing any events would be limited to $5,000 a year.

Nenshi said he'd like to see a longer period around elections barring councillors from holding such events and wants a definition of what exactly a third party is.

Under the current definition, Nenshi said he could be fundraising for a corporation, which he doesn't think is appropriate, while helping out a charitable foundation would be acceptable. 

"What are the limits of my ability to fundraise for that while I sit in this chair?" he asked. "So there's some big questions to sort out."

'There are loopholes'

The committee voted to examine potential loopholes in the policy and asked for a revised report to come back to the committee in a couple of weeks.

"We realized that if you have a devious mind, there are a lot of loopholes that exist now, that still exist under the new policy, and so it's a matter of trying to fix it," said Nenshi.

At Tuesday's meeting Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra questioned the need for such a policy, but said he'd like to see more specifics in the policy if council determines there's a need. 

Coun. Peter Demong said he'd rather see the policy be amended to deal with potential problems before council takes a vote on it.

"Once we actually pass this and then try to make amendments to an existing policy, that takes far longer, seems to get far more technical and leaves you with less options, if I'm not mistaken," said Demong.

The revised policy proposal is expected back at the committee on May 2.

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