Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Provo Republican LG agrees that lobbyist "reform" bill is worthless

A few months ago, when our dear legislature pretended to give a hoot about how had their appearance of corruption is, I pointed out the numerous loopholes that were so wide a truck could drive through. I blamed those loopholes on Utah Republicans, because they have a massive majority in both houses of the legislature. The Utah Republican party "Senate Side" blog complained that I was just saying that all Republicans are bad and all Democrats are good. Then it turned out that their blog allows posts from lobbyists.

Now, the former Provo big wig and now LG agrees with me.
"So far it doesn't seem to be making any sense," said Joe Demma, chief of staff of the lieutenant governor's office, which oversees lobbyist regulation. "I can't tell you what the point of the law is."
Take Craig Peterson, former Senate majority leader, who is a lobbyist for hire. His report includes a $630 dinner with Utah House and Senate leaders in Washington, D.C., on May 6.
But he only paid one third of that amount. ...
The law as written would allow lobbyists to hide spending as long as they could get a colleague to claim the entire expense. Peterson believes the report should include that he only paid for part of the bill and who picked up the rest of the tab.
This reporting period also marks the first time lobbyists must disclose the name of a legislator who accepted a sporting event ticket, regardless of the cost. Previously, the names were only included if the cost of the ticket was over $50.
On just about everything else, lobbyists have become masters at getting costs under that $50 threshold.
A lobbyist for the Utah Home Builders Association paid for five rounds of golf for legislators that cost between $47.77 and $49.34.
A Utah Restaurant Association lobbyist filed a disclosure for $650 and the purpose was listed as "activity."
She provided no other information.
A Johnson & Johnson lobbyist spent $360 on "interim discussions," without any indication of what that money was spent on.

Lack of disclosure means lack of accountablity. And when that lack of disclosure is "a feature not a bug" of the bill, it raises a presumption that legislators have something to hide. I would make the same criticism of Democrats if they where in charge. In the US Congress for example, some old House and Senate Democrats want to prevent true lobbyist reforms and they are dead wrong. I call on Pelosi and Reid to go over the head of folks like Conyers and Murtha.

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