Council members urge Harrisburg mayor to return campaign contribution

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – There is more backlash for Mayor Eric Papenfuse following an ABC27 report that he accepted a campaign contribution from the company hired to convert city streetlights to LED.

City councilwoman Sandra Reid and Council President Wanda Williams are urging Papenfuse to return a $1,000 campaign donation last year from The Efficiency Network vice president Patrick Regan.

Campaign finance records show Regan gave the money two weeks after his company was hired to convert Harrisburg’s 6,100 streetlights. Records show TEN also gave political contributions to the mayors of Allentown and Bethlehem following approved contracts for work.

Allentown canceled its contract last month after the information came to light during an FBI raid on city hall. On Tuesday,  ABC27 pressed Papenfuse on TEN’s contributions and asked it the money was a “thank you.”

“It is whatever … however you interpret it,” he said. “I think Patrick Regan appreciates the city and wanted to make a campaign contribution.”

Papenfuse added the contract was vetted by a state energy committee, City Council, and solicitor Neil Grover. Neither Harrisburg nor TEN is accused of wrongdoing.

However, Reid said that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. She had suspicions about the contract after the mayor pushed against an alternative company.

“It’s bad,” Reid said. “Why would you take campaign contributions from somebody you just signed a multi-million dollar contract with? That’s not good business. That’s not the way we should be doing business in the City of Harrisburg.”

According to an archive video on Roxbury News, Papenfuse rallied against pay-to-play politics as a member of The Harrisburg Authority in 2007. Papenfuse referenced the hardships it has on ethics and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

Reid said given that Papenfuse was heavily involved with the investigation into former mayor Stephen Reed; his acceptance of campaign contributions seems hypocritical.

“I think he should really come out and say he made a mistake,” Reid said. “He should give it back.”

Bill Cluck, a former THA member now on the board of Capital Region Water, worked alongside Papenfuse to aid state investigators probing Reed. Cluck took to Twitter to express his concern.

“Return the contribution Mr. Mayor,” he tweeted. “We had enough of this stench years ago … remember.”

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