Wednesday, October 28, 2009

House Speaker Pat Bauer Proposes Ethics Agenda

Democratic House Speaker Pat Bauer yesterday proposed a reform agenda for the 2010 legislative session. According to his press release, those proposals include:

Lobbyists will be required to report any gift of more than $50 to a legislator, legislative candidate or legislative employee. An individual who holds a state elected office may not be registered as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office. Lobbyists will be prohibited from representing multiple clients if there is a conflict of interest between those clients.

“These proposals are aimed at providing clarity to the day-to-day activities of state lawmakers, and ensure there is a necessary break to prevent any state elected official from using a former position to gain unfair advantages over others,” Bauer said. “I believe it is appropriate as well to make sure that lobbyists do not try to exploit those they are representing by taking all sides of an issue. Such conflicts only end up filling the lobbyists’ pocketbooks.”

Any individual appointed to a position in the executive branch by the governor will not be allowed to register as a lobbyist for one year after leaving the post. Committees representing the governor or any candidate for that office will be prohibited from soliciting contributions or conducting fund-raisers during the long session of the Indiana General Assembly or a time period around the Legislature’s Organizational Day.“The proposed changes mirror what we are seeking in the legislative branch, and expand a prohibition on raising funds that has been in effect in the Indiana House for a number of years,” Bauer said.

People who have contracts with state government or bid on contracts will be prohibited from making political contributions to individuals who hold state office or run for state office. People who bid on or receive contracts will be required to register with the state’s election division, which will make that information available to the public. Violators will receive civil and criminal penalties and face the potential loss of their state contracts.

The Indianapolis Star reported that other legislative leaders, including Republicans House Minority Leader Brian Bosma and Senate Majority Leader David Long expressed support for an ethics reform agenda.

The Star also noted the reaction of Sen. Mike Delph, a Carmel Republican who has pushed for a major overhaul of lobbying rules. Sen. Delph called the backing by legislative leaders "a good day for Indiana." He stated further: "This is a step in the right direction in terms of rebuilding the public trust and fomenting the idea that government is accountable to the citizens and the constituents that elect their representatives."

Critics of Speaker Bauer saying he is just pushing a reform agenda for "political reasons." To that, I would reply, "so what?" I have long said that pursuing a reform agenda is politically popular. Speaker Bauer has apparently woken up to that fact. Who cares about his motivation for pushing reform, if reform gets enacted?

It is a shame that Marion County Republican leadership and the Ballard administration have not gotten the message about the popularity of an ethics/good government agenda. Reviewing the Mayor's contribution report is like reading a "Who's Who" of what companies are doing business with the City. If Republicans do not stand for good government reform in Indianapolis, an agenda the Marion County Democratic Party here has avoided, they are doomed to be the minority party in the county.


patriot paul said...

Excuse my cynicism, but some of these reforms are nothing new, have been bandied about for years, and are feigned concerns by the very people who abuse their position. More importantly, many of these 'reforms' would not withstand a court challenge. Prohibiting your choice of jobs for a lobbyist within one year after leaving the General Assembly? Banning citizens from making a campaign contribution just because they end up winning a contract for the State on its own merits? Reducing free reportable perks from $100.OO to $50.OO? Ban fundraising before, on, & after a particular day (organization day)? Lawmakers know some of these would not withstand a challenge but makes good hype; albeit cosmetic campaign rhetoric.
Behind the curtain, they can still receive junkets, plane tickets, resort accomodations- just REPORT it, and your're ok.
Frankly, this charade is low hanging fruit; trinkets thrown to the public to influence the public that they're not crooks. What a joke. Reminds me when they passed property tax caps that according to Long, are 'probably unconstitutional', because it violates current wording in the In.Constitution.
Lawmakers want people to eat up sudden but faux conversions, and present to you their public version of sugar cream pie. Excuse me while I gag.

I know said...

It is a start but the door needs opened wider for full disclosure of the full cooling off period before ANYONE in government can hold a contract that they were part of the organizing the rules and requirements of a state contract. Special State Appointees and committees they share on need to go.

Paul K. Ogden said...

PP, these changes have never been enacted. They have been PROPOSED previously but never by a sitting speaker of the house. That is a major difference. The Speaker is probably the most powerful political figure in the state, especially during the session.

Make no mistake about it...if these changes were adopted they would representa a big change in the law. Not big enough in my book, but a big change nonetheless.

Diana Vice said...

While it is good that lobbyist reform is being promoted, it is also wise for voters to be wary of particular motives if nothing more than for future reference. If Bauer is doing it because it will win him votes, he is a mere politician. If senators who have been promoting these measures for years are doing it to solve a problem or because it is the right thing to do, it makes them statesmen. I always prefer statesmen over politicians. That's why it makes a difference to me.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Hey, Diana, if you're only willing to accept support from "statesmen" you will always be in a minority!

I know said...

Is someone now on the hook for some wrong doing? The politicians in Indiana never react in unison on anything across party lines unless they see a storm coming.

Speaker Bauer made a good first step. One can only hope as things come to light from somewhere the Speaker, the Senate Leader and their followers really cause change.

The list of malfeasance is long and contains a lot of "powerful" folks. The Federal Agencies will have a filed day when they open pandoras box.

Leslie Sourwine said...

This is in the news currently

I know said...

The article clearly shows the same type of activity that has ben called out that is going right in Indianapolis under the FBI's nose and the Marion County Prosecutors obvious allowance of it.

One can only hope the trickle down theory works in this and the rest of the stink will come rolling out in Indiana with the hundreds of millions of dollars more than the US Rep, has apparently moved around for people. There are a few more with bigger cookie jars than him and the State and local Marion County officials know it.

One legal scholar has been quoted to an individual thanking him for wanting to clean up the mess in Indiana and then avoiding the source after the legal scholar discovered all the information he and his State Senate friend were given was true and they cannot report it because it will open up a very bad mess in Indiana politics.

God help the good statesmen and women when the mess comes out for they will have a very deep and wounded State of Indiana to heal. It will take a very long time as the mess goes to the core of the system. IT IS BROKEN IN INDIANA!!!!!!

Leslie Sourwine said...

I know

We have to believe the FBI is investigating corruption in all level of government. That's how the story I linked to came out. The problem is the FBI moves very slowly because they not only want those who are corrupted into the coffins they want to make sure the nails are in place as well. In the meantime those who are breaking the law continue to break the law while thinking no one is the wiser or that blogs like this one are no threat to their activities because on the surface it appears as though no one is investigating. Unfortunately for the corrupted that reality doesn't hit them in the face until the FBI is there to make the arrest.

Diana Vice said...

I'm always willing to accept support from politicians to advance good government. Just saying that when voting, I prefer statesmen to politicians.

I know said...

Read today's Cincinnati Enquirer and the arrest of a State Senators son, a former State official and county Commissioner and an Auditor and several others on public corruption charges.

First Chicago and now Cincinnati. Will some folks in Indiana get the night sweats? One can only hope as it about time for a cleansing in the Hoosier State.

The Federal Courthouse on Pennsylvania awaits the line of felons in Indiana.

Leslie Sourwine said...

I know

A news story in the Washington Post on investigations by the Ethics Committee involving members of Congress and possible corruption. It’s too bad that corruption doesn't get revealed because it's a crime. Instead it's the political parties pointing the finger at each other usually when elections get close.