Legislative ethics | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Legislative ethics

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Jumbo shrimp. Military intelligence. Etc.

John Brummett joins my perennial outrage over ethical blindness at the Arkansas legislature. He concludes, as I did last week, that a couple of lawmakers' failure to report special interest junkets isn't the big sin.

Actually, though, the real failure — and the misdeed that legislators ought to have more decency than to commit, and which ought to be expressly forbidden in the sad event they don’t — is getting lavished with nice trips by special interests in the first place.

Is there any chance our Legislature might toughen this law to prohibit our elected representatives from getting feted by special interests who, for one example, want to build coal-fired electric generating plants in our jurisdiction?

Probably not. Just last week a state Senate committee declined to give a favorable recommendation to a bill saying legislators couldn’t become lobbyists within a year of the end of their legislative terms.

Why, this could work a financial hardship on a departing legislator.

In short, he says, the state regulates paperwork, not ethics. Cold turkey on gifts is the only hope for reining in these turkeys.

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