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Lobbyist News 12.18.09 by liuqingyan

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									                           The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

                             December 17, 2009 Thursday
                                 First Replate Edition

Reform tops their agenda; 3 candidates for House speaker face daunting
challenges this session.

The man Republican lawmakers nominate today to be the next speaker of the House
is going to have an ugly job from the start.

The majority party's choice, the presumptive speaker, will take office after one of the
most sensational scandals in recent memory and will have to lead during a budget
crisis that is the worst in generations. Gnarly ethics issues and brutal budget cuts will
dominate his first months.

Three are running: Ways and Means chairman Larry O'Neal of Bonaire, former
Judiciary chairman David Ralston of Blue Ridge, and Higher Education chairman Bill
Hembree of Winston.

The contest comes after the spectacular implosion of Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-
Hiram), the once-powerful leader who shocked the state with an admission last
month that he attempted suicide. His ex-wife then went on television and said he
had an affair with a lobbyist promoting a bill he sponsored. Within days, Richardson
said he would resign Jan. 1.

And, just like that, ethics has become a major issue for the people vying for
Richardson's job. But it's not just ethics. Rank-and-file Republicans say they want
someone who will not be just "more of the same."

In the past, candidates would spend the weeks before an election glad-handing and
behind-the-scenes cajoling for votes. This time, they have spent energy explaining
away past issues and professing their fidelity.

Three seek the job

O'Neal is considered a front runner because of his close ties to fellow Houston County
politician Gov. Sonny Perdue, his calm demeanor and steady hand. But his
relationship with Perdue --- he was the governor's private lawyer for a time --- and
other members of the Republican leadership have also raised questions.

O'Neal told a Macon Telegraph reporter that Richardson's affair with the Atlanta Gas
Light lobbyist was "common knowledge" yet did nothing that could have prevented
the current scandal.

He also continues to take heat for pushing through a last-minute tax cut bill in 2005
that personally benefited the governor. O'Neal sent a letter to his Republican
colleagues late Tuesday saying an IRS audit in 2007 cleared him of any wrongdoing
in the Perdue tax matter and that should clear his name.

Ralston, who was stripped of his committee chairmanship after he challenged
Richardson for the speakership in 2008, has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to
state and federal collectors for delinquent personal income taxes from 1996 to 2005.
Ralston said the tax problem stemmed from a dishonest bookkeeper who pleaded
guilty to embezzling from him.

Hembree is not as well known as O'Neal and Ralston and his district is trending
Democratic, meaning he might be vulnerable when he runs for re-election. He ran
unopposed in 2008. Hembree, who has became a favorite of social conservatives,
could also scare off moderate Republicans.

As the caucus seeks a speaker who can rise above the scandal, many have pointed
to the influence of lobbyists as a primary concern.

The three candidates running to replace Richardson have received numerous gifts
from lobbyists, just as current House leaders have, although O'Neal has far outpaced
the other two.

Lobbyists have spent almost $36,000 on O'Neal since 2005, disclosure reports filed
with the State Ethics Commission show. That's more than the top leaders in the
Senate received, but considerably less than the current House leadership.

So far in 2009, lobbyists have reported spending $6,599 entertaining O'Neal. In
March, two lobbyists --- representing Stateside Capital and the Georgia Affordable
Housing Coalition --- split the $799 bill to give O'Neal tickets to a concert by Elton
John and Billy Joel.

Ralston accepted $13,158 in lobbyist gifts since 2005, including $1,396 so far in
2009. In 2007, AT&T spent $831 to take Ralston to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Microsoft spent more than $1,500 on airfare, lodging, food and drink, and ground
transportation for Ralston. Disclosure reports do not say where Ralston went.

Bill Hembree, received $9,589 in the past five years, including $1,602 in 2009. More
than half came from state agencies, mostly football tickets provided by the
University System of Georgia and tickets to events at the Georgia World Congress
Center, including a monster-truck show and a motocross event. In 2006, Georgia-
Pacific gave Hembree $358 tickets to a Bon Jovi concert.

Promises of reform

In the days since Richardson's announced resignation, all three have campaigned via
meetings, telephone conversations and the Internet. All have promised rules changes
and ethics reforms.

Ralston, in a letter to the caucus Tuesday, reminded his colleagues that he stood
nearly alone a year ago in challenging Richardson and that he promised then to end
the hawks system that allowed a handful of powerful lawmakers to cast votes in any
committee. He also vowed to limit lobbyists' access to him and his office.

In an interview --- Ralston was the only candidate to grant one --- Ralston said his
GOP colleagues realize what's at stake today.

"It took a lot of hard work to win a majority, and I don't think we want to go back
and not be able to work on issues that voters sent us down there to work on," he
said. "They recognize the only way we do that is to let the people of Georgia know
that we're serious about change."
Ralston said he's the candidate with a record of fighting to change the current
system, back in the days when the other candidates obliged Richardson's heavy
hand.

O'Neal, a lawyer in Warner Robins, would not return calls from the AJC, but he
issued a lengthy multi-point plan for reform .

Like Ralston, he pledged to end to the hawk system. He stressed he would disagree
with the governor but "without making a spectacle," a reference to Richardson once
referring to Perdue's backside in remarks on the House floor.

"I will never intentionally embarrass you," he wrote.

He stressed he would work for "meaningful ethics reform legislation" this upcoming
session.

Hembree said he was too busy to speak with the AJC but sent a brief statement that
"ethics reform will be essential for us to move forward and I look forward to working
with my colleagues to craft the right legislation."

In recent e-mail sent out to colleagues, Hembree said, "We cannot afford to continue
down the path of talking about family values and ethics reform on the campaign trail
but turn a blind eye at the state Capitol. It must end now and it must start in the
Speaker's office."

How it will work

The GOP caucus will convene at 11 a.m. in the House chamber. They will vote for the
caucus nominees for speaker and speaker pro tem and will also elect a majority
whip. Their choices for speaker and pro tem will then stand for election before the
full House when the Legislature returns Jan. 11 for the 2010 session.

Candidates for speaker pro tem and majority whip:

Speaker pro tem

Rep. Jan Jones of Atlanta

Rep. Rich Golick of Smyrna

Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn

Majority whip

Rep. John Lunsford of McDonough

Rep. Ed Lindsey of Atlanta
                              Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

                             December 17, 2009 Thursday
                                    Final Edition

House panel passes ethics update Citizens' arguments for even more
stringent guidelines are turned aside

The House Rules Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to move forward a bill
strengthening the state's ethics and lobbying laws.

House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, is carrying the bill, which now moves to
the House. Lawmakers return Jan. 5.

"I believe that we can do some things to get a little more confidence in the system,"
he told the committee, while noting he doesn't know of any corrupt legislators or
lobbyists.

Among House Bill 1001's major provisions, it:

*Prohibits lawmakers from becoming lobbyists until one year after theof their term.

*Lowers the reporting requirement for gifts and meals from lobbyists to lawmakers
from $100 to $50.

*Bars the governor from fund- raising during a long budget session. Lawmakers
already are prohibited.

*Prohibits lobbying firms from representing clients with conflicting interests.

*Bans businesses holding contracts with the state for more than $100,000 from
contributing to some political campaigns.

The conflict-of-interest and contractor provisions drew concern from Republicans on
the panel, but not enough to stop the bill from moving.

Several citizens testified that the bill doesn't go far enough.

Brianna Dines, a 20-year-old Indiana University student who heads the student
activist group Democracy Matters, encouraged an outright ban on gifts similar to that
used in the executive branch.

"We think information should be the persuading factor - not dinner and drinks," she
said.

Rep. Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville, told Dines that lobbyists aren't evil and are simply
representing many Hoosiers who can't make it to the Statehouse for themselves.

But Dines didn't back down, saying lobbyists should be able to represent those
citizens without giving lawmakers sporting tickets or other material gifts.

Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana, also supported a full ban on
gifts, as well as lengthening the cooling- off period for lawmakers to become
lobbyists to two years.

She also encouraged more timely reporting requirements to the Lobby Registration
Commission so that citizens can see what money is being spent during the session -
rather than months later - on issues.


                                  Los Angeles Times

                            December 17, 2009 Thursday
                                  Home Edition

CalPERS aims for openness; The state pension fund board backs a measure
to require agents who help set up deals to register as lobbyists.


The California Public Employees' Retirement System, saying it wanted to be more
open and clear a cloud hanging over it, has backed proposed legislation to regulate
outside investment managers' use of so-called placement agents to pitch huge
private equity deals with the fund.

On Wednesday, the pension fund's board endorsed a not-yet-written measure that
would require such sales intermediaries to register as lobbyists with the state the
same way that the people who lobby the Legislature, the governor's office and other
government agencies do. Such lobbyists must disclose regularly the names of their
clients and the fees they receive.

The proposal got only one dissenting vote on the 13-member board. That came from
George Diehr, a Cal State San Marcos business professor and head of the CalPERS
investment committee.

A registration policy, he argued, might discourage placement agents from operating
in California. The agents, he said, can play a useful role helping small private equity
funds get a piece of CalPERS' $200-billion portfolio.

The proposal, which would have to be drafted as a bill and introduced at the Capitol,
also would ban contingency payments that are based on the success of the lobbying
effort. The measure, if it became law, would further prohibit lobbyists at CalPERS
from making political contributions and limit their gift giving.

The lobbyist legislation, along with a placement agent disclosure policy that was
approved in May, come in response to a growing inquiry in California that first
emerged from a corruption scandal at a New York public pension fund.

Since then, some documents released by CalPERS revealed that a former CalPERS
board member who became a placement agent, Alfred J.R. Villalobos, was paid more
than $70 million for helping a handful of large private equity and real estate
investment funds win billions of dollars of business from the pension system over the
last decade.

In October, CalPERS Chief Executive Anne Stausboll hired an outside law firm to
investigate the placement agent payments and whether they influenced the fund's
investment decisions.
"There's been quite a cloud over the pension industry," Pat Macht, CalPERS' external
affairs manager, told the board. "This will provide a level of high confidence that
investment decisions are made in an impartial way."

The idea of applying state lobbying rules to CalPERS was put forward recently by
board President Rob Feckner and two other members, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer
and state Controller John Chiang.

Registering placement agents as lobbyists "hopefully . . . takes away the greed
factor," Feckner said Wednesday.

The CalPERS board's recommendation that the state regulate placement agents
wasn't the only major issue before the board.

The pension fund's poor return on its investments in the last two years has prompted
it to seek more contributions from the state and local governments that support it.

But to ease the financial strain on its participating governments during the current
economic downtown, CalPERS has moved to reduce the payments somewhat.
Specifically, it has adopted a statistical technique known as smoothing. This allows
CalPERS to spread the way it accounts for its recent, steep investment losses over a
longer period of time and repay them over the next 30 years.

CalPERS adopted this approach in June to reduce higher payments for local
governments, and Wednesday it took the same approach for the state.

The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposed adopting the technique,
to no avail.

An aide to Schwarzenegger said the governor opposed reducing the state's pension
obligation even though he faces a $21-billion budget shortfall for the spending year
that starts July 1.

The governor said he would rather hike the state's CalPERS contribution next year by
$1 billion to make sure the pension fund has enough cash to meet more of its future
obligations, said Greg Beatty of the state Department of Personnel Administration.


                               Missouri Lawyers Media

                                 December 17, 2009

Ethics bills multiply as Missouri's legislative session nears

This month, numerous lawmakers have proposed bills that they say would fix ethical
inadequacies in state government. Several lawmakers said their efforts are also a
response to the forced resignations of three lawmakers this year.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steve Tilley became the latest lawmaker to
introduce alterations to regulations on campaign finances, lobbyist reporting
requirements and internal house rules.
Among other things, Tilley's proposals that he announced this week would:

Ban lawmakers from taking meals or gifts from lobbyists;

Bar lawmakers from serving as political consultants during a General Assembly term;

Force lawmakers to wait a certain amount of time before becoming a lobbyist or
taking an executive appointment;

Restrict donations that a person can make to an elected official who appoints that
person to a board or committee; and

Prohibit any entity that has a pending decision before an executive agency or board
from donating to the governor.

Lobbyists provide tens of thousands of dollars worth of meals, trips and
entertainment to public officials every year. While a few Democratic lawmakers
proposed lobbyist gift bans in the past, those bills have gone nowhere in the GOP-
controlled General Assembly.

Several lawmakers also proposed banning legislators from serving as political
consultants during the last legislative session. Democrats and some Republicans
criticized then-House Speaker Rod Jetton for his dual role as the top Republican in
the Missouri House and as a political consultant.

When asked why he didn't publicly support or push for those initiatives, Tilley said in
a telephone interview that his position on those issues has "been a process. " In
particular, he said he became convinced that lobbyist gifts needed to be reigned in
after showing articles about his own intake of freebies to his parents.

He also said the resignations of former Sen. Jeff Smith and former Reps. Steve
Brown and Talibdin El-Amin influenced his decision.

"Certainly the spotlight has grown greater on Jeff City," Tilley said.

Smith and Brown resigned after pleading guilty to federal charges related to lying to
federal investigators about illegal campaign activities during the former's 2004
congressional campaign. El-Amin stepped down after pleading guilty to bribery
charges.

Earlier this month, Jetton was charged with felony assault on a Sikeston woman.
Before the arrest, Jetton - who proclaimed his innocence through an attorney to
numerous news outlets - was the subject of a Kansas City Star series about his
continued influence as a political consultant after leaving electoral politics.

Tilley's ethics package came a day after two other state representatives publicized
wide-ranging legislation on the subject. State Reps. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, and Jason
Kander, D-Kansas City, proposed a package on Monday that would:

Make it a felony to obstruct an investigation from the Missouri Ethics Commission;

Force political party committees and political action committees to donate only to
candidate committees. The bill would also make it a felony to transfer money
through committees as a way of concealing the original donor;

Encompass the promising of legislative action for campaign contribution under state
prohibitions against "pay to play" laws;

Prompt political consultants who do work for corporations to register as lobbyists;
and

Prohibit individuals from being treasurers or deputy treasurers for multiple
committees.

"It's been my personal experience that most of the people you deal with are very
honest and work very hard to follow the rules," said Flook, who is an attorney. "But
there [are] a few who will at times bend the rules. Or there may be conduct that
looks bad, even though it doesn't necessarily violate the rules. "

In a statement, House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, said instituting
campaign finance limits was a "key omission" from Tilley's proposal. LeVota and
several other lawmakers have sponsored legislation this session to place limits on
donations.

Tilley said that LeVota's statement lacked credibility, because he didn't criticize Flook
or Kander for not including campaign finance limits in their bill.

Earlier this month, Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, proposed
a legislative package that would, among other things, outlaw campaign donations
from lobbyists during the legislative session.

Kander, Flook and Tilley said they had questions about whether the lobbyist donation
ban was constitutional. A judge struck down an in-session fundraising ban in 2007,
noting that the measure failed to address free speech issues.

Ultimately, Kander said that the legislation put forward this session would need to be
continually tweaked in the coming General Assembly sessions.


                        The Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)

                             December 17, 2009 Thursday

Barron issues bill prohibiting practice

After Gov. Bob Riley's office criticized a bill proposed by Democrats in the Legislature
that prohibited the governor's office from issuing no-bid contracts but exempted the
legislative branch, Sen. Lowell Barron introduced what he said was a corrected
version Wednesday.

Barron, chairman of the committee that decides which bills come to the Senate floor
for consideration, said he always intended to stop all agencies from using no-bid
contracts.

He said the majority of the no-bid contracts, including a recent multimillion-dollar
computer consulting contract, go through the executive branch, but his bill would
ensure all agencies are included.

Currently, Alabama does not have a law that prohibits no-bid contracts. Barron's
legislation would prohibit no-bid contracts of more than $7,500 with an exception for
emergencies.

"Any contract with the state of Alabama in an amount in excess of $7,500 shall be
competitively bid and open to the general public after a reasonable and prudent
period of advertising on a central electronic site maintained by the state," according
to the proposal. "Such contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.

"Any contract entered into without complying with the lowest competitively bid
requirement shall be null and void, and the state may not honor any no-bid contract
which fails to comply with this section."

Barron's first version stated that any contract entered into by the executive branch in
any other manner would be null and void, drawing criticism from Riley's office since
the legislation didn't mention any other branch of government.

Riley's press secretary, Todd Stacy, said Friday that he might believe the error if the
Democrats did not have a history of writing themselves out of accountability bills. He
said the administration would be watching closely and doubts how serious the
Democrats are about passing the bill.

"If anyone buys that Lowell Barron and the Democrats actually want accountability, I
have some pristine beachfront property in Oklahoma I'd like to sell them," Stacy said
Wednesday.

Stacy and other members of the administration have repeatedly criticized the
Democrats for not following through on their covenant with voters leading up to the
2006 election, promising to pass ethics reform early in the next legislative session.

"While they're at it, they should close the other loopholes they've carved out for
themselves to avoid accountability, and pass anti-corruption reform," Stacy said.

Barron, D-Fyffe, said it was always his intention to prohibit no-bid contracts by all
agencies, but there was a mistake in drafting the legislation. He said Friday that he
did not catch the language that only specified the executive branch and vowed to
change the legislation to ensure it applied to all state agencies.

Stacy, on Friday, questioned why the bill even mentioned the executive branch if it
was intended to ban no-bid contracts from all branches.

Barron and other Democrats are calling Riley the "King of No Bid Contracts" and said
his administration has pushed through contracts totaling billions of dollars even
though Riley criticized the widespread use of them in the previous administration.

Stacy has said Riley is not giving out no-bid contracts to friends like the previous
administration. He said Riley has brought more accountability to the contract
process.

Barron said Friday the administration was picking at his bill and added "I understand
this (no-bid contract issue) is bothering them and it should."
Stacy has said the governor would sign a bill if it actually banned no-bid contracts.

Barron said eliminating no-bid contracts could save the state tens of millions of
dollars.

In the proposal, there is an exception for emergency contracts "to protect the
general welfare and safety of the public."

Those contracts should be designated as emergencies and proclaimed emergencies
by the governor, according to the proposal.

"Notification of emergency contracts shall be given to the public and the news media
whenever executed and shall also be posted on a central electronic site so as to give
the public and the news media additional access to all emergency contract
information and a detailed explanation as to the specific cause of the emergency,"
according to the bill.

Failure to comply with the provisions, if passed, "shall cause the non-compliant
person or persons to be removed from his or her position or positions in state
government upon conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction," according to the
bill.

Federal law prohibits agencies that receive federal funds from bidding out some
services and some state agencies receive hundreds of millions of dollars from
Washington.


                              Palm Beach Post (Florida)

                           December 16, 2009 Wednesday
                                 FINAL EDITION

COUNTY OKS ETHICS PANEL, WATCHDOG IN HISTORIC VOTE

With three of their former colleagues locked in federal prisons, county commissioners
took dramatic action Tuesday to pierce the cloud of corrupt self-dealing that has cast
a pall over the government for years.

In a burst of unanimous votes, commissioners adopted an ethics commission, a code
of ethics and revised property sales procedures and, in potentially the most far-
reaching move,created an Office of Inspector General with the independence to
investigate the commissioners themselves.

County Commission Chairman Burt Aaronson called the votes "historic." He and
fellow commissioners said the actions marked the end of one of the darkest chapters
in county history, in which federal probes led Commissioners Tony Masilotti, Warren
Newell and Mary McCarty to resign and plead guilty to using their offices to enrich
themselves.

Some of the corrupt acts of which former political powerhouse McCarty was accused
in charging documents this year dated back nearly 20 years. Former West Palm
Beach Commissioners Ray Liberti and James Exline also have served federal
sentences since 2006.

"It has been a troubling past couple years for those of us who have tried to do the
good work of the public," Commissioner Karen Marcus said. "I am hoping that today
this sets that behind us."

The move came seven months after a grand jury convened by State Attorney Michael
McAuliffe recommended the county enact tougher ethics laws, including the creation
of an inspector general post.

"The community can take some measure of satisfaction, even pride, in the process of
restoring trust in our government," McAuliffe said. "The public wants elected leaders
and public entities being responsive and responsible. These ethics reforms are
forceful examples of that basic expectation being matched by the working reality of
government."

The county will begin seeking qualified candidates to fill the watchdog spot within the
coming month. A selection committee made up of the newly created ethics panel, the
state attorney and the public defender is expected to hire an inspector general by
May 1.

"I call it the ethics stimulus package," Commissioner Steve Abrams said. "Finally we
are going to be on the road to turning the corner, so that we can then devote all of
our attention to many of the critical issues we are facing."

Commissioners are expected to vote Jan. 12 on plans to create an "implementation
committee" designed to help county administrators establish the inspector general's
office and the ethics commission.

Under the reform package, the inspector general must have at least 10 years'
experience as either a law enforcement official, a federal or state court judge, or a
lawyer with expertise in investigating fraud, mismanagement and corruption. Also
eligible: auditors, accountants or people with managerial experience in an
investigative public agency.

Those who have been employed within the last two years by Palm Beach County or
any other government under the scrutiny of the inspector general's office are
prohibited from the post.

Tuesday's decisions apply only to county government. But commissioners plan to ask
voters next year to approve a county charter change that would make the ethics
reforms apply to the school board, municipalities and other local governments.

Officials in at least one city, Boca Raton, said they plan to consider approving the
reform package so it also applies to them.

"I think it is important that we all get on board," Deputy Mayor Susan Whelchel said.

Abrams on Tuesday sent an e-mail to officials in all 12 cities in his commission
district, which includes Boca Raton, calling on them to adopt the county's reform
package.

Commissioners also have eliminated their discretionary accounts, a sore spot for
budget watchdogs for years.

"This is the last piece of the implementation of the grand jury report," Abrams said.


                     South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale)

                   Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News

                            December 16, 2009 Wednesday

Broward School Board passes new lobbying rules: Penalties stipulated for
violators

Dec. 16--FORT LAUDERDALE -- Lobbyists doing business with Broward County
schools will face sanctions ranging from a warning to a two-year suspension if they
do not follow rules unanimously approved Tuesday.

The School Board's new rules create a "cone of silence" that prohibits lobbying of
board members, the superintendent or other district officials from the time a request
for proposals is issued to when a contract is awarded.

Those who violate the "cone of silence" will be ineligible to receive a contract.

The strengthened policies come after lobbyist Neil Sterling failed to disclose his
business ties to board member Stephanie Kraft's husband, despite a district policy
requiring disclosure. Sterling faced no punishment for not obeying the ethics rules
because they were toothless.

The new restrictions also follow the Sept. 23 arrest and subsequent suspension of
board member Beverly Gallagher on corruption charges.

"Many actions have to take place, in addition to the new lobbyist policy, to restore
faith in the district's reputation," said board Chairwoman Jennifer Gottlieb. "However,
this is a step in the right direction."

The new policy also expands the definition of lobbyist to include those lobbying on
behalf of their own company or employer.

But it won't prohibit parents, community members or school groups from talking to
board members or district officials.

Lobbyists must register with the district every year and disclose whether they have
business ties to School Board members, district officials or their immediate families.

The new punishments for violating the lobbying rules include a warning, a reprimand,
suspension or, in the most extreme cases, prohibition from lobbying for up to two
years.

The schools superintendent will be expected to conduct the investigation and
recommend any penalties to board members.
Under the new rules, lobbyists who repeatedly violate the rules will receive the
harshest penalties.

                         Springfield News-Leader (Missouri)

                           December 16, 2009 Wednesday


Top House leader wants to ban gifts, meals from lobbyists

A top Republican state House leader is suggesting lawmakers ban lobbyists from
giving them gifts and most free meals.

With some former colleagues recently pleading guilty to federal crimes, several state
lawmakers are introducing legislation this month to reform the way they do business
in Jefferson City.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steven Tilley unveiled a package of
governmental reforms aimed at eliminating the perception that lawmakers are
bought by special interest groups.

"What we're trying to accomplish is making ... a long-term structural change in what
goes on in Jefferson City," said Tilley, who could become the next Speaker of the
House if Republicans retain control of the chamber in 2010.

One of Tilley's main proposals would ban individual lawmakers from accepting any
gifts and meals paid for by registered lobbyists. It would apply to meals provided to
individual committees and the majority and minority caucuses in both chambers,
Tilley said.

That proposal was met with immediate skepticism from members on both sides of
the aisle who questioned the practicality of such a ban.

Lobbyists routinely buy catered meals for lawmakers who meet during the lunch hour
in committees.

"We're going to lose a large part of our working day by not being able to work
through lunch when we break from noon to 2," said Rep. Jim Viebrock, R-Republic.

Some committees also get fed breakfast by lobbyists and special interest groups
during early committee meetings.

Viebrock said he attends dinners with lobbyists and other lawmakers outside of the
Capitol to get educated on issues.

"I don't see anything wrong about going to a meal and getting some one-on-one
attention to learn about an issue," Viebrock said.

Tilley said his proposed ban of lobbyist-funded meals would not apply to
organizations that invite all members of the House or Senate to large events and
dinners.

"I don't want to stop that because I don't want to discourage citizens of the state
from coming up and advocating their positions," Tilley said.

In recent months, three former Democratic state lawmakers from St. Louis -- Reps.
Steve Brown and T.D. El-Amin and Sen. Jeff Smith -- pleaded guilty to federal
criminal charges. El-Amin was brought down on a bribery charge, while Brown and
Smith pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for lying about campaign tricks.

For the past year, there has been a cloud of suspicion that the FBI is investigating
pay-to-play schemes in the Capitol -- those in which lawmakers allegedly exchange
official acts for campaign contributions.

Rep. Charlie Norr, D-Springfield, said not every free meal from a lobbyist is lavish.

"I've turned down filet mignon and lobster at the country club," Norr said. "We do
meet and discuss business. If they want to buy me a sandwich, I don't see anything
wrong with it."

Tilley noted lawmakers already receive a $87.20 per diem when they're in session to
cover meals and lodging expenses.

Rep. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, is among a handful of legislators who pay for their own
meals or reimburse lobbyists when they pick up the tab.

"I just don't believe in the practice of grabbing a lobbyist to go grab lunch," Wasson
said. "I think it can get out of hand at times. I think it can get too cozy at times with
the lobbyist."

Wasson said he does partake in meals provided to the entire House or a committee
when the group doesn't break for dinner.

Wasson, who is running for the 20th Senate district in 2010, indicated he'd support a
ban on lobbyists showering legislators with gifts, such as tickets to sporting events.

"I have a big problem with ballgame tickets, concert tickets and meals outside of the
building," he said.

Other legislation

Earlier this month, Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields proposed legislation
that would, in part, bar lawmakers from accepting contributions from lobbyists
during the five-month legislative session from January to May.

Shields, R-St. Joseph, said there's a perception that lawmakers who accept
donations during the session do so in exchange for voting a particular way.

"When contributions are made during session, the perception is there is a linkage
there," Shields said. "And this starts to address this issue."

The legislation wouldn't prohibit lobbyists from making contributions after the
session concludes in mid-May. But it wouldn't prevent a lobbyist's spouse or co-
worker from making the contribution on their behalf, Shields said.

"I don't have a constitutional way of doing that," he said.
On Monday, Republican Rep. Tim Flook and Democratic Rep. Jason Kander
introduced ethics legislation aimed at strengthening criminal penalties for violating
campaign finance laws.

Flook and Kander are also seeking to tighten rules governing political action
committees by prohibiting PACs from making contributions to other committees in
order to obscure the source of the money. The practice is common on both sides of
the aisle, even after lawmakers threw out contribution limits in 2008 and promising
limitless contributions would end the money laundering.

Tilley admitted the money shuffling continues in the era of limitless contributions.

"But I think it's clear that it's far less than it was before," Tilley said. "It's much,
much better than it was."

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, said Tilley's proposals will do
little to stop the wealthy from buying influence in the legislature. LeVota has
introduced a bill that would cap contributions to representatives at $500, $1,000 for
senators and $2,000 for statewide candidates.

LeVota said prohibiting legislators from "accepting a plate of chicken wings or a slice
of pizza from a lobbyist" doesn't address the core perception of lawmakers putting
legislation up for sale.

"To me, that's going to be more of a question than anything else," LeVota said.

Lobbyist gifts, meals

Registered lobbyists are required by law to disclose any gifts, meals, tickets or travel
accommodations they buy for elected members of the Missouri General Assembly.
Here's a look at the total value of all lobbyist-paid gifts and meals accepted to date
in 2009 by state lawmakers who represent parts of Barry, Christian, Dade, Dallas,
Douglas, Greene, Lawrence, Laclede, Stone, Taney and Webster counties:

Representatives

Eric Burlison, R-Springfield$1,179.02

Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville$6.58

Bob Dixon, R-Springfield$1,919.22

Charlie Denison, R-Springfield $786.53

Tony Dugger, R-Hartville$346.76

Ed Emery, R-Lamar$395.66

Sara Lampe, D-Springfield $920.27

Charlie Norr, D-Springfield $266.37
Mike Parson, R-Bolivar $2,519.91

Darrell Pollock, R-Lebanon $1,092.84

Don Ruzicka, R-Mount Vernon $829.71

David Sater, R-Cassville $117.50

Shane Schoeller, R-Willard$1,643.06

Jim Viebrock, R-Republic$975.02

Maynard Wallace, R-Thornfield $292.48

Jay Wasson, R-Nixa $0

Ray Weter, R-Nixa $755.89

Larry Wilson, R-Flemington $179.40

*Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City $529.28

Senators

Norma Champion, R-Springfield$512.33

Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield $1,462.43

Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon$367.53

Gary Nodler, R-Joplin$753.07

Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City$940.48

*Wood resigned in September to be appointed presiding commissioner of Stone
County.

-- Source: Missouri Ethics Commission



                         Springfield News-Leader (Missouri)

                          December 16, 2009 Wednesday

Missouri Senate consumes more lobbyist-paid meals than House

There might be one-fifth as many members of the Missouri Senate as there are in
the 163-member House, but senators have consumed more than twice as many
lobbyist-paid meals in 2009 as their counterparts in the lower chamber, state records
show.

The entire 34-member Senate has accepted $95,549.66 in meals and gifts from
registered lobbyists this year, according to lobbyist-filed reports on the Missouri
Ethics Commission Web site.

The full House has accepted $47,088.02 worth of meals and gifts from the lobbying
corps, according to ethics reports.

The General Assembly as a whole has accepted $141,829.20 in meals and gifts this
year for events and gatherings where all members are invited to partake, records
show.

One reason for the Senate's higher meal tab may be that the senators spent many
nights during the 2009 session working late into the night through filibusters on
reining in tax credits, an economic development bill and legislation that would have
made it easier for AmerenUE to build a new nuclear power plant.

Those figures do not include meals and gifts lobbyists have bought for individual
lawmakers, committees or majority and minority party caucuses, which can be
searched here on the Missouri Ethics Commission Web site.

Year-to-date, lobbyists also report buying:

· $13,990.58 in meals and gifts for Senate Republicans

· $1,537.93 in meals and gifts for Senate Democrats

· $48,664.94 in meals and gifts for House Republicans

· $18,359.53 in meals and gifts for House Democrats

When the caucuses from both parties are included, the House still beats the Senate
in overall meals - $114,112.49 to $111,078.17, according to ethics commission data
as of Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, is calling for a ban on all lobbyist
gifts and meals to individual lawmakers, committees and caucuses.

Under Tilley's proposal, lawmakers could only get a free lunch when the entire
House, Senate or General Assembly as a whole were invited to eat on a lobbyist's
dime.

                                    Chicago Tribune

                              December 14, 2009 Monday
                               Chicagoland Final Edition

Governor candidates say ethics reform law fell short; Many Democrats and
Republicans support term, funding limits

The candidates seeking to win the Feb. 2 Democratic and Republican primaries say
the state needs to do more on ethics reform in the post-Rod Blagojevich era, with
many saying the tenure and power of legislative leaders need to be curbed.

In the first of a series of responses from three Democratic contenders and seven
GOP candidates for governor to questions from the Tribune on the issues facing
Illinois, many say a new campaign-finance reform law failed to go far enough by
allowing top lawmakers to continue moving unlimited amounts of cash to the
campaigns of rank-and-file legislators.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who took over in the state's top job when Blagojevich
was ousted in January, signed the campaign-finance package last week.

"I know that there are further reforms to be made, and I am committed to making
real reform a top priority through the rest of my administration," Quinn said. "But
look where we are today, compared with one year ago."

He said he was proud of the progress made so far, including tougher state
purchasing rules and moves to make government more transparent.

Quinn's top rival for the Democratic nomination, three-term Comptroller Dan Hynes,
said government needs more reforms "to show the people of Illinois that their
government is as ethical and trustworthy as possible."

Republicans are using the arrest of the former governor on federal corruption
charges to try to return to the governor's mansion that the GOP held for a quarter-
century until scandals under the last Republican governor, George Ryan, sent him to
federal prison.

"One-party rule in Illinois has produced the mess we are in, and I am committed to
put the state back on the right fiscal and ethical path," said GOP state Sen. Bill Brady
of Bloomington. He has called for tougher donation limits for individuals, businesses
and political action committees than were imposed under the new law.

Several contenders zeroed in on the power of the four people who head the state
House and Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses as needing reform. The so-
called Four Tops of the legislature are in essence statewide leaders but are chosen by
their members. They control the flow of legislation and influence the votes of many
individual lawmakers.

The Collins commission supported term limits for House speaker, Senate president
and the minority leaders in the two chambers, but they were not part of the package
approved by lawmakers. Tenure limits of some form for politicians -- ranging from
legislative leaders to statewide officeholders -- were supported by all of the
contenders in both parties except for Hynes, who said he is a proponent of the
"democratic process" of elections.

Republicans particularly seized on the concept of legislative leader term limits, noting
the Democratic control of the General Assembly and the lengthy tenure of House
Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, who also is state Democratic chairman.

Andy McKenna, formerly Madigan's counterpart as state Republican chairman, said
that by limiting legislative leader tenure "we can help ensure that a small coterie of
insiders no longer hijacks the legislative process at their whim or to advance
personal causes."

Jim Ryan, the former attorney general and unsuccessful 2002 GOP nominee for
governor, said he favored term limits for top lawmakers "because dictatorial
legislative leaders are only accountable to those in their small districts even though
their power extends throughout the state."

DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said he had been opposed to
legislative term limits but has changed his mind because "Illinois has illustrated that
without fresh voices and ideas, individuals ... see their power grow."

Quinn, the Democratic governor, long has supported the concept of term limits and
said he believed an eight-year cap on legislative leaders was "reasonable." But, he
said, the issue should be decided by voters.

Hynes agreed with Republicans who said legislative leaders should be capped on how
much money they could transfer from their leadership bank accounts into the funds
of individual lawmakers. Another Democratic contender, activist William "Dock"
Walls, of Chicago, called the lack of a transfer cap "a major shortcoming" in the law.

Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, said he opposed the campaign finance
reform bill because of the lack of limits on leadership dollars and said the "legislative
process is monopolized by too few to truly represent the best interests" of Illinoisans.

GOP contender Dan Proft, of Chicago, said the lack of leadership caps showed that
"under the guise of attacking the pay-to-play culture in Springfield, the current
political class acted only to further codify it."

Adam Andrzejewski, a Hinsdale Republican, said he promoted a series of
transparency reforms involving campaign finance mirrored on those adopted by
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

                             The San Diego Union-Tribune

                             December 14, 2009 Monday



City fines lobbyist $4,500 for filing disclosures late

SAN DIEGO: A lobbyist has been fined $4,500 by the San Diego Ethics Commission
for failing to file required disclosures in a timely fashion.

Mitchell Berner, who owns the lobbying firm Public Solutions, did not respond to
repeated reminders from the commission and the City Clerk’s Office to file three
quarterly reports in 2008 and 2009. The disclosures — which list clients, fundraising
activities and campaign contributions — are required under lobbying laws that went
into effect Jan. 1, 2008.

Berner, an active registered lobbyist at San Diego City Hall since 2001, has since
filed the disclosures. They show he had no lobbying activity during the reporting
periods.
                             The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

                        December 13, 2009 Sunday
                              Main Edition
Gold Dome scandals nothing new

It's enough to make Tiger Woods blush.

Tales of strippers and Georgia state lawmakers cavorting on the coast. A state school
superintendent fleecing taxpayers to fund a face-lift. A powerful state senator using
his businesses to steal campaign money --- he also looted charities.

Welcome to Georgia's gold-domed Capitol, which has been the backdrop for a spate
of salacious scandals over the years. Most involved sex or money --- or both. The
most recent, which forced the Dec. 3 resignation of House Speaker Glenn Richardson
(R-Hiram) over allegations of a marriage-wrecking affair with a lobbyist, is just that -
-- the latest in a long line of lawmakers behaving badly in Georgia and state capitals
across the nation.

"Power is an aphrodisiac," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's
Center for Politics. "The temptations just overwhelm some of these guys. You're
never going to stop it."

There are about 7,400 state lawmakers across the nation, about three-fourths of
them men, Sabato said. They hold vast lawmaking power over businesses worth
billions of dollars. They operate in a landscape defined by the constant need to raise
campaign cash. They are away from home for months at a time and are wined and
dined by armies of lobbyists, including many attractive young women.

It creates a political petri dish, with all the right ingredients for trouble.

"The lobbyists are on them like bees on honey, and the legislators are the honey,"
Sabato said. "They are the money, they are the regulators and all the rest. They are
where the power is."

Last week, Missouri newspapers were filled with the sordid tale of former Missouri
House Speaker Rod Jetton, charged with battering a woman in her home in a sexual
interlude that apparently began as a consensual rendezvous. Then there's the recent
case of former California lawmaker Mike Duvall, a married man forced to resign after
he was caught bragging about having sex with two women, one of them an energy
lobbyist. Georgia's list of Capitol miscues began long before Richardson. Consider
these:

1995. Lobbyists treat five Georgia lawmakers --- Republicans and Democrats --- to a
golf outing on Daufuskie Island, S.C. Four strippers from Atlanta's Cheetah Lounge
tag along for reasons that are never explained. Lobbyists and lawmakers swear
nothing inappropriate occurred. The incident spurs calls for tighter ethics rules and
tarnishes several political careers. Among the attendees was current House Speaker
Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek).

2005. Former state Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker (D-Augusta) is sentenced
to 10 years in prison on charges that include illegally profiting from advertisers in his
Augusta newspaper, defrauding campaign contributors and illegally doing business
with the state through two public hospitals.

2006. Former state school Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican with
gubernatorial ambitions, lands in federal prison after pleading guilty to
embezzlement and money-laundering charges in a plot to steal federal funds
intended for deaf and honor students. Schrenko used $9,300 of the loot for a face-
lift.

"I don't know if there are more scandals than there used to be, or you just hear
about them more," said Alan Rosenthal, a Rutgers University political scientist and
author of the 1996 book "Drawing the Line: Legislative Ethics in the States."

In the past, Rosenthal said, there was no blogger-crowded, gossip-saturated
Internet. Print and broadcast journalists largely ignored politicians' sexual dalliances.

And there is the Clinton factor, he said. Then-president Bill Clinton had an affair with
a young intern, lied to the nation about it, then tried to redefine not only what sex is,
but what "is is." But his wife stood by him and he survived an impeachment attempt.

Rosenthal said there is little doubt the Clinton affair had an impact.

"When the president is involved in a scandal with an intern in the White House and
gets away with it, then other people say 'Why not?' " Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal believes, however, that legislative standards have improved over the last
few decades.

'Mood right' for change?

The Georgia Capitol is a cacophonous zoo during the 40-day legislative session. It's a
place where school kids crowd the marble corridors alongside high-paid lobbyists,
more than a few in high heels and form-flattering outfits. Sometimes the halls look
as if a school bus collided with a modeling agency.

Also crowding the place are the state's 236 lawmakers. They are lawyers, teachers,
farmers and business owners. Each makes a base salary of just $16,000 a year.
They must run for office every two years, which means they are always running for
office. Even a mid-level campaign can cost $50,000.

"The system is skewed to allow lobbyists to have an incredible amount of influence,"
said state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta).

She said "inappropriate relationships" were a part of the Capitol long before
Republicans took power a few years back. Democrats ran the state for more than a
century before that.

"Our abuses of power led in part to our loss of the majority, and now we see the
same issues bringing down the Republican Party," Benfield said.

State Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) said he plans to introduce legislation
limiting lobbyist spending to $100 per lawmaker per session.

"We can do things to control the issues regarding money," Willard said. "You can't do
much to legislate morality."

But Benfield said she believes that problem can be addressed as well.

"If more women were in leadership positions, I doubt we'd see the sexual
indiscretions that have been plaguing the Georgia General Assembly," she said.


                                    The Miami Herald

                               December 13, 2009 Sunday


Florida Commission on Ethics seeks more authority

Criticized as a toothless tiger, the Commission on Ethics wants more authority to
investigate and punish wayward officials in Florida.

The watchdog agency wants to seize the moment at a time when a string of scandals
has seized public attention and a statewide grand jury is launching a major public
corruption inquiry.

But only the Legislature can expand or restrict the commission's powers. Legislators
have long been wary of giving the agency more clout, partly out of a fear that it
would lead to witch hunts aimed at lawmakers themselves.

``This state has been rocked by ethics scandals from one end to the other over the
past year,'' says Cheryl Forchilli of Tampa, head of the bipartisan, nine-member
commission. ``The public consciousness has really been raised to the level of
corruption and unethical practices. If there's ever been political will, it's going to be
now. We've attempted to craft proposals that don't overreach.''

The past year has brought indictments against a state legislator, a Broward County
commissioner and School Board member and a prominent Hollywood lobbyist, and a
wide ranging criminal inquiry into a major Broward County fundraiser that has seen
federal agents questioning senators.

PETTY POLITICS

But much of the ethics commission's time appears to involve petty violations or
small-town politics - like a case involving a Little League umpire fired by the town of
Century's recreation department.

The commission is promoting a package of proposed legislative changes, including:

• Giving the commission staff power to initiate investigations based on ``reliable and
publicly disseminated information'' and without a formal complaint being filed, as the
law now requires. Such investigations would require a supermajority vote by the full
commission (at least six of nine members).

• Imposing a 10-fold increase in the maximum fine for violations, from $10,000 to
$100,000.
• Lowering the burden of proof for a violation, from the current standard of clear and
convincing evidence to a preponderance of the evidence.

``Any watchdog agency that has no ability to initiate an investigation is just
inherently limited in how effective it can be,'' Forchilli said.

A similar proposal has been advanced in previous years with no action by a resistant
Legislature.

``All these things are generally dead on arrival,'' said Mark Herron, a lawyer who
represents public officials accused of ethics violations and who served on the
commission in the 1980s.

He opposes most of the proposed changes to the ethics laws.

``By reducing the burden of proof, you're doing a disservice to the entire process,''
Herron said. ``If you're going to damage someone's reputation and call them a
corrupt public official, you ought to have a clear and convincing standard.''

Raising the maximum fine to $100,000 makes no sense, he said, noting that the
maximum fine for a life felony in Florida is $15,000 (though such crimes also carry
lengthy prison terms).

Forchilli said the current fines are laughably low, and the agency needs a much
broader range of potential fines to mete out appropriate penalties. She noted
corruption cases in South Florida involving tens of millions of dollars.

``A $2,000 fine for an ethics violation becomes a cost of doing business,'' Forchilli
said.

EXPERIENCED

Any proposed changes to the ethics laws will be reviewed by the Senate Ethics and
Elections Committee -- which is chaired by freshman Sen. John Thrasher, R-St.
Augustine, who has firsthand experience with the subject.

Thrasher has been cited twice for ethics violations, once as a House member for
illegally representing a client for a state agency and later for lobbying the Legislature
less than two years after leaving office.

As a Clay County commissioner in 2006, Thrasher was cleared by the commission of
an ethics allegation after he voted to award a contract to a garbage firm he had
represented as a lobbyist.

As House speaker in 1999, Thrasher blocked legislation that would have beefed up
the ethics commission's power, saying it could lead to witch hunts.

Thrasher promised to keep an open mind, but said he did not know enough about
the proposals to comment in detail.

He said his priorities are confirming political appointees of Gov. Charlie Crist, and
changing the way legislative leaders can raise campaign money.
``We've got to have an ethics commission. I certainly agree with that,'' Thrasher
said. ``If they have some ideas to make it better, it's something we'll certainly look
at.''

Forchilli says the time is now to give her agency more authority. ``I think the
legislative leadership, in the current climate, should be ready to lead the charge to
make these changes,'' she said.


                         San Jose Mercury News (California)

                             December 13, 2009 Sunday

San Jose mayor angers labor groups with ethics proposals

As he heads toward the final city council meeting of the year Tuesday, San Jose
Mayor Chuck Reed is unveiling a set of ethics recommendations that are sparking
controversy with some labor-backed council members and their allies.

From avoiding conflicts of interest by council members' relatives to closing loopholes
in the city's lobbying ordinance, Reed says he's determined to eliminate abuse at
City Hall.

But local labor groups say Reed is targeting them.

"Politicians are often tempted to use their power to protect themselves from
criticism. Chuck Reed apparently wants to change the city's ethics rules for that
purpose,'' read a statement released Friday by Working Partnerships USA, a non-
profit think tank affiliated with the South Bay Labor Council.

Reed said the labor group's statement has "no connection'' to what he is proposing.
He said the ideas came from a variety of sources: complaints from the public,
suggestions from the council, his own observations and feedback from an informal
group of local ethics experts.

"I go through a process every two years I keep a running list of the things that come
to my attention during that time,'' said Reed, explaining how he composed his 2009
biennial ethics review. San Jose voters approved the review process as a charter
amendment in 1990.

The city charter does not say what must be included in the mayor's review, nor does
it require the mayor to do anything beyond sending a memo to the council with
proposed changes to the ethics policy.

But Reed decided in 2007 and again this year to convene a panel of local experts to
discuss potential changes to San Jose's ethics rules. This year, to expand
participation, the mayor asked the council to suggest items for consideration. He
then held a community meeting in June at which the public was allowed to give
input.

Yet some council members and their staffs say the final proposals smack of
retribution.
"Many of the recommendations certainly have a political slant,'' said Ryan Ford, chief
of staff for Councilwoman Nora Campos. Reed has been a frequent target of Campos'
barbs, and her husband, Neil Struthers, is a registered lobbyist with the Santa Clara
County Building Trades Council.

One of Reed's proposals seeks to require Campos and any other councilperson in a
similar position to verbally disclose that relationship before voting on any issue
related to her husband's work. Current rules only oblige council members to disclose
such relationships if a matter of financial interest comes before the council. (Campos
often goes further, volunteering whether she or anyone on her staff has discussed a
given issue with Struthers, which has occasionally elicited titters in the council
chambers.)

Ford also notes that many of Reed's recommendations "are a result of specific
incidents involving the South Bay Labor Council," the powerful group with whom
Reed has frequently clashed and whose leader, Cindy Chavez, ran against Reed for
mayor.

Reed's proposal to close a loophole in the city's lobbyist registration and disclosure
rules is thought by many in City Hall to be a jab at Bob Brownstein, a former city
budget director who now directs policy for Working Partnerships USA.

Under the current ordinance, Brownstein is exempted from registering as a lobbyist
because Working Partnerships is a nonprofit. But Reed says Brownstein also lobbies
council members on behalf of the Labor Council, which is a registered lobbying
group.

Reed's proposal would require non-profits to register and comply with the lobbying
ordinance "if it is engaged in lobbying activity and is controlled ... by another entity
that is required to register" under the ordinance.

Brownstein declined to comment on the issue. But Jody Meacham, spokesman for
Working Partnerships, said: "Many aspects of the policy, in fact, are narrowly tailored
to silence only the mayor's political opponents. We object to elected officials having
the ability to pick and choose the citizens or groups of citizens allowed access to
their government.''

Reed who kicked off his re-election campaign last week amid soaring poll ratings
scoffed at that accusation, saying the rules apply "to everybody.'' He said the
proposal also would impact other advocacy organizations with non-profit arms like
the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Association, the Silicon Valley Leadership
Group and even some housing developers with established family charities.

Still, the inspiration behind many of the proposals appears to be drawn from the hit-
parade of recent San Jose political brawls, many of them thought to be linked in
some way to labor.

For example, the proposal to limit anonymous complaints to the city's Elections
Commission is almost surely in reference to the brouhaha that erupted last
December, when an anonymous complaint was filed to the commission accusing
former Mayor Tom McEnery and his family business of repeatedly violating city
lobbying rules.
Normally, such complaints are kept secret until they are evaluated, but copies of the
McEnery complaint were mailed the same day to his neighbors, the media and
community leaders.

In April, the Elections Commission dismissed the complaint after an independent
investigation showed the McEnerys made a good-faith effort to comply with the
lobbying rules. But at least one commissioner said the commission had been
manipulated in a political mugging; McEnery, like Reed, long has clashed with labor
and has been an advisor to the current mayor.

Tom Mertens, a former Elections Commissioner and a member of the group that met
with Reed earlier this year to discuss the ethics ideas, cites this proposal as among
the most important.

While anonymous complaints would still be accepted in limited circumstances to
protect whistle-blowing employees, the amendment also would prevent a repeat
what happened to McEnery, Mertens said.

If the limit is not approved, Mertens said he foresees future political campaigns being
hijacked at the last minute by anonymous complaints that garner media attention,
"and there is no recourse for a candidate who is attacked like that.''

Councilman Ash Kalra, a staunch labor ally, issued a four-page memo late Friday
afternoon that seeks to revisit many of Reed's proposals. The memo was co-signed
by councilmembers Nancy Pyle and Kansen Chu.

"The issue I have with the recommendations he is putting forward is that they don't
seem to be very well thought-out," said Kalra. "And I think it's wrong and unethical
to use the guise of ethics reform to target political adversaries.''

Countered Reed: "I'm not targeting political adversaries. I'm trying to plug
loopholes.''

Mayor ReeD"s ethics Recommendations


Here are nine proposals Mayor Chuck Reed will place before the city council Tuesday.
1. Avoid conflicts of interests arising from family relationships.
2. Close a loophole in lobbyist registration and disclosure.
3. Require all decision-making boards and commissions to meet at City Hall.
4. Avoid "policy by surprise" at council committees by deferring action on last-minute
proposals.
5. Allow laid-off employees to seek a waiver of the prohibition on "revolving door
employment with the city.
6. Improve timely disclosure of council member calendars and those of top officials.
7. Debate requests to drop or defer agenda items at their scheduled time, rather
than at the start of the meeting.
8. Limit anonymous complaints to the Elections Comission.
9. Ensure that arbitration hearings over police and fire contracts are open to the
public.
                                 Des Moines Register

                            December 12, 2009 Saturday

Culver puts lobbyists on notice for '10

Gov. Chet Culver vowed Friday to stand up to lobbyists' efforts to derail aspects of a
government-streamlining proposal, as they have some of his priorities.

Here are three examples Culver cited during a conference call with Des Moines
Register reporters and editors, and some background about the issues.

Prevailing wage: "I mean, who is against giving a carpenter two more dollars an hour
to rebuild our state from the floods? Most Iowans think that makes sense. But the
special interests stopped it."

In 2007, Democrats proposed requiring that contractors and subcontractors pay
employees who work on public projects the same hourly wage and benefits as those
paid on private projects.

Majority Democrats were unable to muster the votes to pass it that year or in the
subsequent two legislative sessions.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry aired advertisements in opposition to
pro-union legislation this year, while the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees lobbied for it.

Bottle bill: "We came up with an idea to clean up our environment and raise the
redemption amount on cans and bottles so we could not only keep trash out of the
ditches across the state and keep Iowa beautiful but also fund REAP," Culver said.
"And that also got taken down by the special interests."

REAP is Resource Enhancement and Protection, a program that pays for trails, land
and cultural attractions.

Last year, Culver proposed doubling the 5-cent deposit on bottles and cans and
allowing consumers to get only 8 cents of the higher deposit back when containers
were returned. The state would have kept 2 cents, to be split between REAP and the
stores handling the collections.

Grocers objected to the idea. But so did lawmakers in Culver's own party, who
described it privately as a tax increase during an election year.

Combined corporate reporting: "We wanted to require corporations like Wal-Mart to
pay their fair share with combined corporate reporting. But the special interests
prevailed there," Culver said.

Culver was referring to his 2008 proposal to close a tax exemption that allowed out-
of-state companies doing business here to avoid paying taxes on income in Iowa.

Business groups and large out-of-state employers such as Alcoa, which employs
more than 2,000 people in Davenport, said the measure would make Iowa less
competitive with other states vying for jobs.
As with the bottle bill, lawmakers complained that Culver had not vetted the proposal
with them first, and that it also amounted to a politically unwise tax increase.

								
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