Pay to play?

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Last year, the executives and political action committees of companies that get government contracts continued to be among the most frequent contributors to local political campaigns. The timelines below show some of the many instances in which contracts flowed one way and contributions went the other.

The officials
  • Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato oversees county contracting and names members of the Airport Authority, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan) and Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) boards.
  • Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl oversees city contracting and names members of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Pittsburgh Housing Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), Alcosan and SEA boards.
  • Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb signs off on all city contracts.
  • Pittsburgh Councilman Jim Motznik is a member of the Alcosan board.
  • State Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, is a member of the URA board.
  • State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, is a member of the SEA board.
  • State Sen. Sean Logan, D-Monroeville, is a member of the SEA board.
  • State Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Westwood, a city councilman in 2008, is a PWSA board member. State Rep. Don Walko, D-North Side, chairs the PWSA board.
DEVELOPERSContractor/Contributor: Millcraft IndustriesDateContract or Contribution?Details
Feb. 14ContractURA board votes to buy 43 parking spaces from Millcraft for $1.72 million and lease them back for use at Piatt Place
March 6Contribution$500 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
May 8ContractURA board votes to seek $5.6 million in state funds for Millcraft's Market Square Place
May 8Contribution$8,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
June 12ContractURA board votes to sell Downtown property to Millcraft for $2.31 million, and to provide a $380,000 grant
Dec. 1Contribution$10,000 to Ravenstahl campaign

Contractor/Contributor: The Buncher Co.DateContract or Contribution?Details
March 1Contribution$500 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
April 12Contribution$100 to Ferlo campaign
May 7Contribution$2,050 to Ravenstahl campaign
June 28Contribution$200 to Ferlo campaign
Aug. 17Contribution$100 to Ferlo campaign
Oct. 24ContractURA requests proposals to redevelop Allegheny River area, with focus on Buncher's Strip District property
Nov. 21Contributions$1,500 to Ravenstahl campaign

LAW AND ACCOUNTING FIRMS
Contractor/Contributor: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, law firmDateContract or Contribution?Details
March 6Contribution$250 to PWSA board chair Walko's campaign
March 30Contribution$500 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
April 1Contribution$300 to SEA board member Logan's campaign
April 3Contribution$1,500 to Ravenstahl campaign.
April 17ContractSEA board awards $75,000 contract for legal services on the new arena project
May 9Contribution$350 to Onorato campaign
May 13Contribution$5,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
May 15Contribution$600 to SEA board member Fontana's campaign
JuneContractEarns $100,000 as counsel on PWSA debt refinance
July 12Contribution$250 to Walko campaign
July 21Contribution$3,000 to Onorato campaign
Aug. 5Contribution$500 to Onorato campaign
Aug. 7ContractSEA board approves arena contract increase from $75,000 to $175,000
Aug. 14Contribution$250 to Logan campaign
Aug. 25Contribution$5,000 to Onorato campaign
Sept. 11ContractEarns $21,000 as counsel on city debt refinance
Oct. 2ContractCity awards $50,000 contract to consult on labor disputes
Oct. 21Contribution$250 to Logan campaign
Nov. 21Contribution$5,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
Nov.ContractAirport Authority increases a legal work contract by $20,000 to $70,000
Nov. 26Contribution$1,000 to Onorato campaign
Dec. 16Contribution$5,000 to Onorato campaign

Contractor/Contributor: Cohen & Grigsby, law firmDateContract or Contribution?Details
Jan. 7ContractURA grants three contracts totaling $15,000 for legal work on various projects
Feb. 13ContractURA grants $10,000 contract for legal work on Pittsburgh Technology Center
April 3Contribution$250 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
April 30Contribution$5,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
June 23ContractURA grants $10,000 contract for legal work on Pittsburgh Technology Center
July 28ContractHousing Authority grants two $9,500 contracts for legal help with tax credit applications
Aug. 12ContractURA grants $10,000 contract for legal work on East Liberty projects
Oct. 30ContractHousing Authority board makes firm one of eight eligible for part of $500,000 in legal work on development deals

Contractor/Contributors: Jordan Tax Service and Goehring Rutter & BoehmDateContract or Contribution?Details
Feb. 20ContractLamb proposes that city join county in using Jordan Tax Services and Goehring Rutter & Boehm to collect overdue taxes. (Contract not yet final.)
March 4Contribution$250 from Goehring to Lamb campaign
March 4Contribution$1,000 from Jordan to Lamb campaign
March 7Contribution$500 from Goehring to PWSA board Chair Walko's campaign
April 8Contribution$500 from Goehring to PWSA board member Deasy's campaign
April 9Contribution$1,500 from Jordan to Deasy campaign
May 1Contribution$1,000 from Jordan to Ravenstahl campaign
May 9Contribution$200 from Goehring to Lamb campaign
June 2Contribution$250 from Goehring to Lamb campaign
Sept. 12ContractPWSA hires Jordan and Goehring to collect its overdue bills
Oct. 3Contribution$500 from Goehring to Walko campaign
Dec. 1Contribution$2,500 from Goehring to Ravenstahl campaign
Dec. 1Contribution$1,000 from Jordan to Ravenstahl campaign

Contractor/contributor: Pepper Hamilton, law firm
DateContract or Contribution?Details
May 8Contribution$5,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
JuneContractEarns $175,000 as bond counsel on PWSA debt swap
Sept. 11ContractEarns $54,145 as co-bond counsel on city debt refinance
Oct. 3Contribution$250 to PWSA board chair Walko's campaign
Oct. 30ContractHousing Authority board makes firm one of eight eligible for part of $500,000 in legal work on development deals
Dec. 1Contribution$1,500 to Ravenstahl campaign
Dec. 3Contribution$10,000 to Ravenstahl campaign

ENGINEERING FIRMS AND CONTRACTORSContractor/Contributor: Chester EngineersDateContract or Contribution?Details
Jan. 24ContractAlcosan board awards $30,000 contract to document industrial discharge limits
Feb. 28ContractAlcosan board awards $6.54 million contract to plan improvements
March 7Contribution$1,000 to PWSA board chair Walko's campaign
March 14Contribution$1,000 to Alcosan board member Motznik's campaign
March 26Contribution$600 to PWSA board member Deasy's campaign
April 10Contribution$400 to Deasy campaign
May 2Contribution$4,000 to Onorato campaign
May 8Contribution$3,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
June 26ContractAlcosan board awards $197,000 contract for a demonstration program
July 1ContractPWSA allows expired contract that paid $4.3 million last year to continue on month-to-month basis
July 24ContractAlcosan board awards $70,000 contract for West End sewer relocation engineering
Oct. 3Contribution$1,000 to Walko campaign
Oct. 28Contribution$500 to Motznik campaign
Nov. 6Contribution$1,000 to Deasy campaign
Dec. 1Contribution$5,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
Dec. 10Contribution$8,000 to Onorato campaign

Contractor/contributor: Independent EnterprisesDateContract or Contribution?Details
Feb. 8ContractPWSA board approves $376,000 contract for replacing curb boxes and $784,000 contract for fixing water emergencies
March 7Contribution$500 to PWSA board chair Walko's campaign
March 24Contribution$400 to PWSA board member Deasy's campaign
May 8Contribution$500 to Ravenstahl campaign
May 9ContractPWSA board approves $284,000 contract for arena water lines
Oct. 10ContractPWSA approves $357,000 contract for curb box replacements, $916,000 contract for emergency sewer repairs, and $793,000 contract for catch basin repairs
Oct. 24Contribution$250 to Deasy campaign

Contractor/contributor: McTish, Kunkel & AssociatesDateContract or Contribution?Details
March 9Contribution$1,000 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
March 13ContractURA board approves $425,000 contract to manage construction at Pittsburgh Technology Center
May 8Contribution$10,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
Aug. 14ContractURA board adds $90,000, boosting to $155,000 a 2007 contract to manage a project in Homewood

Contractor/contributor: SAI Consulting EngineersDateContract or Contribution?Details
Feb. 8ContractAirport Authority awards $559,000 contract to for parking garage repair design work
Feb. 29Contribution$500 to Alcosan board member Motznik's campaign
March 6Contribution$500 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
March 13ContractURA board increases by $38,000, to $255,000, a contract for design work on Southside Riverfront housing
April 24ContractAlcosan board grants $425,000 contract for engineering for new customer service building
May 1Contribution$1,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
May 2Contribution$250 to Onorato campaign
May 28Contribution$250 to Ravenstahl campaign
June 6ContractAirport Authority board increases a contract for parking structure engineering by $73,000 to $221,000.
June 28Contribution$200 to Ferlo campaign
July 15Contribution$150 to Ferlo campaign
Aug. 18Contribution$3,000 to Onorato campaign
Sept. 11ContractURA board increases by $115,000, to $1.2 million, a contract for work on East Carson Street widening
Sept. 12ContractAirport Authority board increases a construction management contract by $549,000 to $1.6 million
Oct. 22Contribution$250 to Motznik campaign
Oct. 24ContractAirport Authority board awards $157,000 construction management contract for sanitary pump station
Nov. 18Contribution$1,500 to Ravenstahl campaign
Nov. 20Contribution$2,000 to Onorato campaign

Contractor/contributor: T.W. Consultants Inc., engineering firmDateContract or Contribution?Details
April 24ContractCity grants $250,000 construction management contract for roads, bridges, buildings, etc.
May 7Contribution$8,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
Dec. 1Contribution$500 to Ravenstahl campaign
Dec. 16ContractCity reduces construction management contract to $200,000
Dec. 23Contribution$500 to Ravenstahl campaign

Contractor/contributor: Wilbur Smith Associates, engineering firm
DateContract or Contribution?Details
March 6Contribution$500 to URA board member Ferlo's campaign
March 13ContractURA board increases by $140,000 to $590,000 a 2007 contract for design work on Pittsburgh Technology Center
April 1ContractCounty executes a $863,000 contract for construction management of Duquesne Flyover project
May 8Contribution$750 to Ravenstahl campaign
May 9ContractAirport Authority increases contract for economic impact study by $62,000 to $78,000
May 30ContractCity grants $20,000 contract for transportation planning; later increased to $30,000
July 24Contribution$500 to Ferlo campaign
Nov. 19Contribution$3,000 to Ravenstahl campaign
Nov. 20Contribution$1,000 to Onorato campaign
Notes: Contributions are to campaign committees, by executives, partnerships, or corporate political action committees. All dates are 2008. Not an exhaustive list of all contracts or contributions related to these entities.
Sources: Campaign expense filings with the Allegheny County Elections Division, city and county contract spreadsheets and contracts, authority contract spreadsheets and board meeting agendas.


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