Drink up, boys | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Drink up, boys

Posted By on Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 8:23 AM

I see Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has Sen. Steve Faris lined up to handle his ethics legislation. That should provide some throw weight in the Senate.

The legislation has worthy aspects -- a waiting period for lawmakers to cash in as lobbyists, for example. But really. Do you think the Arkansas Legislature will outlaw "absentee lobbying," in which lawmakers eat and drink on the tab of a lobbyist who isn't even present? I don't. The lawmakers like the free swill. The lobbyists know it pays rich dividends. And they can cover more ground just by leaving open tabs wherever the hogs slop.

This is one area where Wal-Mart offers sound guidance. Employees should accept no favors, not even a cup of coffee, from vendors. It compromises their integrity. I guess the theory with legislators is that there's not much left to be compromised.

Ending absentee lobbying is nice, but it doesn't deal with the splitting and stacking of costs, the "group events" and the simple flouting of the law that marks the legislative graft process. Prohibition is the solution.

Note to legislators: You need not meet lobbyists over drinks, you know. But if you insist that after-hours is the only time available, it is possible to pull out a wallet and pick up your own check. Sometimes I wonder if some of these guys carry wallets. It reminds me of the story of the big-shot local business executive, picking up yet another tab, who supposedly once asked Mike Huckabee where he bought all those suits without pockets.

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