Stop the charade | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stop the charade

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Just as I suspected. A Senate panel has beaten the only good bill in Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's "ethics" package. That would be the bill to impose a waiting period before public officials and legislators could turn into lobbyists.

It did endorse a supposed ban on absentee lobbying. This should be illegal already. And, what's more, lobbyists retain many ways around efforts to limit freebies for legislators. Lobbyists split, stack and otherwise run rings around rules on bacchanal expense reporting; there are "group" events exempt from disclosure and there are free trips to supposed business conferences in romantic cities, etc., where swillathons can be rolled into one so seemingly benign "educational" expense. Big whoop on this bill.

Even worse is that by approving this provision the Senate commitee also approved the McDaniel ethics bribe -- to double the amount of carryover campaign money incumbents may keep for their own uses. In short, legislators took the bribe and refused the ethics improvement. Sen. Steve Faris, the man from Smith & Wesson, laughingly said this bill improved "accountability."

This is a real sweet thing for McDaniel, by the way. Unless I misread it, he can retain twice his salary in a slush fund. Thus, he can pile up a whopping $150,000 or so for spending on any "political" purpose he desires.

Reform. I had an editor once who said you should be suspicious whenever anybody invokes that word.

Speaker Wills: Beat this tawdry mess if it reaches you.

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