The party of ethics | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 8, 2010

The party of ethics

Posted By on Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM

John Brummett offers some more specifics to back up his column Sunday suggesting the Republicans in the legislature go after ethics reform.

Could the FOI be improved, he wonders?

Could it! A few suggestions and more where these came from:

* The law is a mess on records retention. It MUST require retention of e-mails and other electronic documents (Talking about you, UA Athletic Department.)

* The blanket FOI exemption for gubernatorial records should be ended, at least after a post-administration cooling off period. Few other states allow governors to run off with their hard drives and papers and leave nothing for historians to dispassionately and honestly review. But much of the work of the governor's office should be open contemporaneously, if not his truly personal working papers.

* The unconstitutional sham of cities and other public agencies passing money to chambers of commerce should be ended. But if it isn't, the law should specifically require accounting of such money. I think a court will eventually rule properly on this issue, but we can't be too careful. Statutory guidelines would be better still.

* End the crazy secrecy extended to the Correction Department surrounding executions. If the state is to be taking lives, every element of that practice should be transparent.

Also:

* UPDATE: in addition to ending lobbyist freebies to legislators, put a two-year cooling-off period on legislators and key staffers turning into lobbyists. How could I forget this one?

* Let's end corporate campaign contributions. They can spend independently if they must.

* Let's require financial reporting of all entities that do political advertising, not just commercials expressly advocating defeat of a politician.

* Let's require searchable data bases for campaign contributions and personal financial disclosure forms.

* The statements of financial interest are woefully inadequate. More and more specific disclosure should be required. Follow the congressional model.

* And here's an idea: You know the Republican convict who ran for state House in western Arkansas and thinks it unfair that someone blew the whistle on his criminal past? How about we require all candidates for public office to waive privacy on their records for an NCIC search of their criminal background. That would avoid such misunderstandings as Tommy Fite's.

A reminder to Democrats: YOU could be the party of ethics, too. It doesn't HAVE to fall to the Republicans even if you're a few decades late.

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