Ethics reform | Arkansas Blog

Ethics reform

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AP story says ethics legislation is coming. Not enough. Nothing is in the works to clean up the lobby entertainment sewer. Current rules are a laughable sham, widely ignored. Talk to any legislator. Ask them if free food and drinks from sources unknown when they walk into the right restaurants are commonplace.

Gov. Mike Beebe says he wants to make it crystal clear that gifts worth more than $100 to public officials are illegal, period. There's some argument now that the gift can be kept if it's not in return for specific action and somehow unrelated to the office a public official holds. As if a lobby would give gifts to someone who did NOT hold public office. I'd suggest the limit ought to be lower. About $10.

The revolving door rule, already proposed, should be two years, not one, before a legislator can become a lobbyist.

Lobbyists should be required to report specific legislators they spend money on, if they are continued to allow to spend money. Further steps should be taken, if the spending continues, to outlaw stacking and splitting of bills to mask the entertainment. The "group functions" have become another sham around full reporting of entertainment expenses (if the whole legislature is invited, less disclosure is required). The exception for those events should be ended. Lawmakers' financial disclosure statements need to be more detailed and provide more information about income and holdings and the top reporting line in those categories should be increased from $12,000.

Most important, corporate contributions should be outlawed. This is fair to corporate stockholders and it would end the ability of a single individual to give multiple contributions under the guise of separate corporate entities.

There are lot more ideas, but that's a start. Don't look for this to emerge from a legislature addicted to freebies.

Oh and yes, we might want to make it clear that any furniture or equipment provided for the benefit of a public offfice holder must be reported specifically and becomes property of the state, not that office holder.


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