Must we pay for better ethics? | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Must we pay for better ethics?

Posted By on Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 7:01 AM

John Brummett today follows up on a couple of topics — the apparent non-starter of an idea to move Sebastian County into Mike Ross' Fourth District and Republican House leader John Burris' flotation of an idea to couple a legislative pay raise with an end to the petty lobbyist bribery on which many legislators have come to depend for food, drink and entertainment. Burris says legislators really need to talk to lobbyists for vital information. Brummett comments:

I do not wish to be overly strident on this, but I must offer three points.

One is that a legislator may ask a lobbyist for information without food being consumed or a tab being picked up. Another is that you should not run for the Legislature if you do not like the salary and expense structure as advertised.

The third is that, while a salary adjustment may be advisable, legislators must separate its consideration from that of ethics reform. You cannot ask the people to give you a raise so that you can be more ethical. You cannot propose to trade in your padding of expense reimbursements for an increase in straight salary.

You must get more ethical because it is the right thing. Then you can talk about whether you ought to get paid more considering these new annual sessions, as probably you should.

I hope I'm wrong, but it already appears Republicans are better at talking about ethics than doing anything about it. Elsewhere, a Stephens Media report quotes Republican Rep. Donna Hutchinson as saying a one- or two-year ban on lobbying by former legislators is probably a good idea, but probably isn't going anywhere. Why not? Shouldn't it start with 45 good government Republicans in the House? You only need six more.

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