An article with Arkansas relevance appears in today's New York Times about Washington lobbyists, who are howling about an Obama administration effort to limit the practice of lobbyists throwing lavish soirees for federal workers who oversee rules and regulations of high importance to clients of the lobbyists.
Lobbyists say if they can't throw fancy dinners, film screenings and the like they won't be able to have productive educational dialogue with federal workers.
Sound familiar? This some manure is shoveled by Arkansas lobbyists every time somebody proposes ending the free swill they lavish upon Arkansas legislators.
It's nonsense. You can do business in your office, in government offices, on the telephone and through books, papers, the web, newspapers, TV, radio and personal contact in hallways. This process need not be lubricated by a process in which you create a beholden public class through dinners, drinks, trips, football tickets, duck hunts, rounds of golf and all the other ways lobbyists insinuate themselves into the government.
Walmart, the epitome of the free market system, decided it's better for the company — and better for customers — to refuse the smallest handout from vendors because it compromises the process and can only result in higher prices. There's every reason to believe government is evidence of the wisdom of this thinking. (This message is for you, too, Republican cheerleaders for ALEC, the corporate-sponsored conservative legislation factory that is heavily subsidized so that acoltyes such as Nate Bell and Missy Irvin from Arkansas can be primed with propaganda and legislative templates to advance their agenda in state legislatures.)
You can do something about this corrupt process. Stayed tuned for Regnat Populus 2012's petition campaign to strengthen Arkansas ethics laws, including by invoking a "Walmart rule" on lobbyists. It's undergoing a little revision to clear up an ambiguity in wording, but petititons should be on the streets for signatures in a couple of weeks. Check the website for progress.
Coincidentally, as you see in the screen shot above, the group is having a kickoff event this morning.