House sticks its hand out | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

House sticks its hand out

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Is there really any doubt that the majority of the House of Representatives just doesn't give a damn how sleazy they look? The sad thing is that they know they can get away with it.

Latest outrage: An official recommendation (relevant info is down in linked story) to ratify the House's earlier vote to repeal the rule that prohibits campaign contributions to House members within 30 days ofa legislative session. There's to be a short fiscal session in early 2010. You can hear all kinds of pitful caterwauling about how the old rule would restrict fund-raising by legislators during an election year.

Bull. The primary isn't until late May. That leaves a couple of months for fund-raising after the session, not to mention the time before. About the only people who raise real money in elections are incumbents. They're typically unopposed. The special interest money typically pours in when they've safely been elected.

This new rule will make special interest cash showers ever so much easier. You can throw a little luncheon fund-raiser over at the Capitol Hill Frat House. Or maybe the Chicken House will loan a little space. Lobbyists, already at the Capitol, can just drop off checks during the lunch hour. Or, hell, they can just pass them up to the committee tables during morning hearings.

Count on Speaker Wills' handy dandy new space age information office to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and blog the essential godness of this new rule to the far corners of Arkansas in a a nanosecond.

Thanks, Theo, for firing me up.

Here's an agenda: Tighten, not loosen contribution rules; stiffen the out-of-date financial reporting required of lawmakers; adopt a cup of coffee rule on lobby spending on lawmakers; provide penalties for failure to meet disclosure rules on potential conflicts;  stop the revolving door to the lobby. What about it Republicans? No way a Democrat will propose any of this. What could you lose by being the party of good government? (I know, you'd lose any hope of ever passing anything in the House.)

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