Donors to group supporting Paving for Progress made millions off the program
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many of the people trying to convince voters to extend a one-cent sales tax to improve roads in Cedar Rapids were the companies benefiting from the program.
Voters expanded the program for another 10 years this past November. Since 2014, Cedar Rapids spent around $148 Million on road repairs through the sales tax. The group backing the extension, which called itself Paving for More Progress, was funded with money from engineering, architecture and construction companies who won bids for projects.
Documents from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board show Boomerang Construction in Anamosa, Iowa, donated $10,000 to the Paving For More Progress campaign. It earned about $19.7 Million from the program since 2014, according to data from the city of Cedar Rapids.
Data from the city shows Rathje Construction Company based in Marion, Iowa, earned almost $34 Million from the program. It donated $10,000 to the group pushing to extend the program for another 10 years.
Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found about 38 different construction, engineering and architecture companies gave donations of at least $500 to the campaign group totaling around $230,000. The average donation was around $6,100. Most companies who gave $10,000 to the Paving For More Progress campaign earned more than $1 Million in jobs to improve roads.
Those include Shoemaker & Haaland, Shive-Hattery, Hall & Hall Engineers, HR Green, LL Pelling, Snyder & Associates Inc., Dave Schmitt Construction Company Inc and Peterson Contractors.
Ralph Russell, who was the chairperson for the Paving for More Progress campaign, said he managed a board of volunteers made up of 15 different construction companies. He said those companies recognized, that along with helping to boost economic development, they can benefit from the program financially.
”It’s something that they are involved indirectly with either personally or with their companies,” Russell said. “Either as a designer of the streets or a contractor building those streets.”
Phillip Platz, who is the interim communications division manager for the city of Cedar Rapids, said the city wasn’t involved in the Paving For More Progress campaign. He also said these projects are awarded to the lowest bidder.
“Paving for Progress projects are bid, and awarded to the lowest bidder, through a public process in accordance with state laws,” he said.
Since the city uses the bidding process there is nothing illegal about these construction companies funding a campaign group. It also makes sense to convince voters to continue a program, which could benefit your business in the future.
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