posted on May 11, 2006 11:08
Democrats in the State House Committee say they want to ban political contributions from lobbyists to legislators. That’s fine. But don’t be deceived. They are not trying to end ‘pay to play.’ In fact, what they are doing will hardly slow Marc Basnight or Jim Black down at all.
The House Democrats are being clever. It may look to the press and the public like they are taking steps to clean up the scandals in the State Legislature. But they are really doing very little at all. The essence of ‘pay to play’ is swapping political favors for campaign contributions. Banning contributions from lobbyists is a step in the right direction. But, lobbyists are not the main source of ‘pay to play’ contributions. Most of those contributions are made by people or corporations (through executives and PACs) who hire lobbyists.
Banning donations from lobbyists will eliminate the middleman. But the lobbyist’s employer can go right on making ‘pay to play’ contributions. And, Marc Basnight and Jim Black will have no problem finding these people to solicit them. All they have to do is look at each lobbyist’s list of clients.
State Treasurer Richard Moore has solicited over a hundred thousand dollars in contributions for his campaign for Governor from people and groups associated with financial corporations he has hired to manage the state’s $65 billion pension fund. This proposal will do nothing to stop Moore – and other Democratic politicians – from soliciting these kinds of ‘pay to play’ donations.
Banning lobbyists’ contributions will change the mechanics of ‘pay to play.’ But it will not stop it. To do that legislators must go a step further. They must stop legislators taking contributions from the people – or groups – who hire the lobbyists.
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