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Published: Monday, 4/15/2013

McNamara challenges opponents to not accept money from government workers

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Joe McNamara Joe McNamara
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Toledo mayoral candidate Joe McNamara today challenged his opponents to sign an ethics pledge to not accept contributions from government workers over whom they have the power to hire and fire.

Standing outside the Lucas County Courthouse, Mr. McNamara signed the five-point pledge that he created.

He also said he would refuse to accept the campaign help of any government worker during regular business hours, even if they take vacation and break time to do political work.

Mr. McNamara, a Democratic Toledo City Council member, said the ethics pledge is aimed at ensuring citizens that candidates aren't using the power of their office to get elected or re-elected, and invited his opponents to do the same.

"Everyone should sign this pledge. It's not difficult or complicated or asking too much," Mr. McNamara said. "This is just saying don't use your government office to help you get elected to something different."

BLADE SLICES: McNamara reaches for ethical high ground

It's an ethics pledge that might be easier for Mr. McNamara to live up to than his two chief opponents, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez.

Mr. Bell has received contributions from the directors and commissioners who report to him, and Ms. Lopez has received contributions in the past from auditor's office employees who work for her. Mr. McNamara has no direct employees on the government payroll, though his votes as a councilman affect the status of some 3,000 city employees.

Neither Mr. Bell, a political independent, who is traveling back to Toledo from an economic development trip to Germany, nor Ms. Lopez, a Democrat, was available to comment. Ms. Lopez is not officially a candidate but is expected to announce on Tuesday.

A similar proposal was made by Democratic City Councilman Steve Steel last August after Mayor Bell proposed to raise the salary levels of his top administrators. Mr. Steel pointed out that in his 2011 campaign finance reports, Mr. Bell had received over $10,000 from his employees, including $2,100 from Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat.

Mr. Bell responded by proposing legislation prohibiting council and mayoral candidates from accepting contributions from the unions that represent city employees, and whose wages and benefits are set by the mayor and council. Mr. Bell later withdrew the legislation.

Mr. McNamara declined to refuse to accept contributions from city employee unions.

"It's not even close. I don't have direct control. It's completely different from someone sitting in Government Center and feeling that pressure when people are talking about a fund-raiser for the mayor's office," Mr. McNamara said.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058. 



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