The Frederick County Council approved a measure this week to prohibit county elected officials from bidding on county contracts on behalf of companies they own. As reported by the Frederick News-Post,
The Frederick County Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to change the county’s purchasing law to state that the county will not enter into contracts with its elected officials, or with business entities owned by the elected officials or their spouse, parent or child. Council members Jerry Donald, Jessica Fitzwater and M.C. Keegan-Ayer and Council President Bud Otis voted for the bill, and council members Tony Chmelik, Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve voted against the bill.
The council members in support of the bill said they see it as a conflict, or perceived conflict, for elected officials to bid on projects. Among them was Otis, who proposed the bill. If people have the perception that a bid poses a conflict, it is important for the county not to have that perception hanging over its head, Otis said after the meeting.
Members in opposition did not see a conflict and tried to offer amendments to allow local elected officials to bid on county contracts if it were disclosed prior to bidding; and to delay the effective date until after December 1, 2018 to apply to a new group of elected officials. Both amendments failed.
Under the new law, the county can’t contract with any for-profit entity owned by a county elected official or qualified family member, not including governmental entities. The rule applies when the council member or family member owns an interest of 5 percent or more in a company, or is an officer, director, trustee or partner of the company.