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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 9:04 PM
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New spin put on influence peddling

New spin put on influence peddling

What goes around will no longer come around, thanks to a new “revolving door” policy preventing former city officials from returning to the city as lobbyists or solicitors after they leave. The rule would be in effect for two years after their position with the city ends.

“When an elected official or a former employee of a higher level, say a department director, steps down or retires from working but then immediately turns around and works for a private company to solicit goods or services for that private company — this is a policy to regulate that,” said City Manager Brian LaBorde.

The policy, introduced at Thursday’s meeting, would apply to former mayors and councilmen as well as city employees ranked as department directors or higher. City Council made no changes to the policy as presented, and it is scheduled to return to Council for final approval April 11.

The policy is meant to prevent, in part, city leaders making decisions that might provide a personal benefit in the future. It mitigates the opportunity for and appearance of self-interested action by former city officials or former employees, according to city staff.

As presented, the policy states that for two years after leaving office or employment, a former official “shall not solicit, propose or lobby on, a contract with the city for the sale to the city of any goods or services other than real estate.”

Exceptions can be made if the majority of Council votes that the former employee’s representation “would benefit the city or not harm the city’s interest.”

Once enacted, the new rule would cause any bid, contract offer or lease to be disqualified for violating the policy.

Councilman Dwayne Ariola first requested such a policy after rumors spread on social media about Mayor Brandt Rydell potentially taking a job with Samsung Austin Semiconductor when his term as mayor ends.

“Some on the dais were unfairly being accused of, once they leave office, going to work for the big boys who just came into town. It’s extremely unfair, and I know you’ve got a thick skin Mayor but I did not appreciate it,” Ariola said.

LaBorde clarified that a former city official is free to go to work for a private company that does business with the city, just not in a position that requires them to lobby on items or solicit contracts for that company.


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