Thursday, January 19, 2006
McCaskill proposes lobbying reforms
State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a candidate for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Jim Talent, is proposing a series of reforms in the wake of the Washington lobbying scandal, according to an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.
It's a shame we are not seeing a similar effort in the state of Missouri. The reforms she suggests are reasonable and workable on the state level, as well as on the federal level:
-Ban trips paid for by lobbyists.
-Ban meals and gifts paid for by lobbyists.
-Increase the amount of time before former legislators or their senior staff members can become lobbyists.
-Increase the reporting requirements.
I would go even further. If people want to make their living as lobbyists, they should not be allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of the people they are lobbying. They should not also serve as conduits between their clients and legislators when it comes to the clients' political contributions.
Registered lobbyists should conduct their business with legislators in the legislators' offices, not in swanky restaurants or at country clubs. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects the lobbyists' role of petitioning the government, it says nothing about plying them with meals, gifts and booze.
I would love to see the state's majority party, the Republicans, take the lead on this issue. It would be a prudent move, since sooner or later, I am not going to be the only one writing about lobbying abuses on the state level. There is going to be an Abramoff trickle-down effect at the state level and the Missouri General Assembly should take the lead with some stringent regulations.