Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the legislators are in the details

The public just got a sneak preview of the ethics bills that the leadership of the Utah House approve. And I have to say there are some genuinely good things in there, like a 1 year prohabition of lobbying by ex-members, ban on personal use of left over campaign cash, and gift ban on anything over $10 (excluding meals, but +$15 meals would have to be disclosed).

But as usual, there was no consultation with House Democrats, and it appears very little with rank-and-file Republicans either. But the best part was at the end of the article:
Representatives asked how the bill would affect legislators who are also registered lobbyists and Dee punted. "Perhaps the different body needs to address that," he said. Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is also a registered lobbyist for the Utah Taxpayers Association.
Classic.

4 comments:

Curtis said...

*sniff* *sniff* do you smell that? Smells like hypocrisy to me! Aw, this ought to be a fun session.

The said...

Maybe you should point out that there are no "prohabitions" (sic) or restrictions on government employees in the Legislature. There are quite a few, and they get to vote on how much the people are taxed and how much of these taxes go to their agencies.

No conflict, of course.

Oldenburg said...

"The" you are becoming my new favorite commenter, even if I disagree with you. There is the thing called the Hatch Act, which prevents state and local government employees from holding a job funding 50%+1 by federal dollars and running for public office. Remember that Odgen Sheriff who tried to run for legislature?

But let's say they work in an minority federally funded or completely state/local government funded government office and run for office. I would be in favor of disclosure and/or prohibiting them from holding both offices at the same time. But again, there is a big difference between being a lobbyist for an interest group while serving in the legislature and being a mere employee of any company or governmental entity.

The said...

The Hatch Act argument is a strawman. Over the years, there have been several state university employees in the Legislature. There are at least two right now. There have been several county employees as well.

A government employee has greater conflict of interests than a lobbyist because the most important thing a legislator does is approve a budget, which includes imposing taxes and determining how these taxes are appropriated. Both impact the bottom line of a government employee.