Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
February 12, 2009 Thursday
State Ethics Bill Would Allow Fines Equal to Salary, Pension; Senate
Committee OKs Measure, 7-0
SANTA FE - A bill that would give New Mexico judges the power to fine crooked
politicians in amounts equal to their salaries and retirement pensions cleared a
Senate committee Wednesday.
Elected officials who criminally abuse the powers of their offices should "no longer
have any right to a public (salary and pension). You need to have something in the
law where a judge can say, 'You know, this is pretty egregious,' " said the bill's
sponsor, Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque.
Payne's bill, one of a slew of ethics reform measures now pending in the
Roundhouse, would allow a judge to levy a fine "not to exceed the value of the salary
and fringe benefits" of elected officials who are convicted of a felony that involves
Payne told the Senate Rules Committee that "fringe benefits" would include
retirement pensions. He added that the bill would also apply to the pensions of state
lawmakers, who don't receive salaries for their work.
Payne's bill at one point appeared close to stalling out in the Rules Committee:
Chairwoman Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, suggested it be temporarily tabled, but
fellow committee member Sen. Kent Cravens, R-Albuquerque, quickly motioned that
the committee vote on it.
The measure passed several minutes later on a 7-0 vote, although some lawmakers
signaled that they might later attempt to widen the scope of the bill.
Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said the measure also should
also apply to appointed officials.
"That would put a whole other level of ensuring honesty in government," Jennings
Payne said he believes elected officials should be held to a higher standard and
cautioned that trying to broaden the bill could spell its doom.
Meanwhile, the Rules Committee on Friday is slated to hear 10 ethics bills, including
measures to limit campaign contributions; expand public financing of elections;
require more-frequent reporting of campaign contributors; regulate contributions
from state contractors; and limit the ability of lawmakers to become lobbyists.
February 11, 2009 Wednesday
Chicagoland Final Edition
Wyma out as health lobbyist
Within days of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest on corruption charges, the
DuPage County Department of Public Health severed its ties with a lobbyist close to
Board chairman Linda Kurzawa said the Health Department had twice hired John
Wyma and Associates as a lobbyist, most recently to help the department get its
Medicaid reimbursements paid more quickly.
But Kurzawa said the department dumped Wyma after federal agents arrested
Blagojevich on Dec. 8 on charges he tried to profit from the appointment to the U.S.
Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
"It's fairly straightforward; his usefulness expired," Kurzawa said of Wyma.
Wyma was chief of staff for Blagojevich when Blagojevich was a U.S. representative.
He was considered one of the state's most influential lobbyists when the governor
was in power.
The Health Department hired Wyma from March 1, 2006, through April 30, 2008, to
lobby on behalf of a local cigarette tax, a proposition that did not get out of the state
Senate, and from Sept. 12, 2008, until Jan. 5 to lobby for Medicaid funding. Wyma
was paid about $228,000, according to the Health Department.
Kurzawa said the department began hiring lobbyists after Sept. 11, 2001, when
competing with for a share of federal bioterrorism grant money. DuPage wanted a
lobbyist to make sure its interests were represented in Springfield, Kurzawa said.
He said the department hired McGuireWoods Consulting to lobby the General
Assembly and Wyma to lobby the governor.
"You can get something through the legislature and in the past administration you
had to get the governor to sign it," Kurzawa said. "That was, as I understand it, what
[Wyma] was recommended for. It doesn't do you any good to get it through the
House and the Senate if it just languishes on a desk."
The Houston Chronicle
February 11, 2009 Wednesday
3 STAR R.O. EDITION
Ethics reform stalled by new review; Lee says plan by Emmett to register
lobbyists is based on an outdated analysis
Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday postponed action again on ethics
reform proposals championed by County Judge Ed Emmett, complicating his efforts
to make good on a campaign pledge to seek the Legislature's approval of the most
In a report submitted Tuesday, the County Attorney's Office said lawmakers would
have to sign off on plans to require lobbyists to register with the county and make
former employees wait a year before benefiting financially from a county contract.
Commissioner El Franco Lee asked the County Attorney's Office to review the
recommendations again because the analysis presented Tuesday was based on
research conducted by former County Attorney Mike Stafford. He was defeated in
November by Democrat Vince Ryan.
Lee denied trying to kill the proposal, saying the county has plenty of time to forward
a plan to Austin.
But First Assistant County Attorney Marc Hill said it could take him two to three
months to thoroughly analyze the task force's recommendations.
By then it could be difficult to build momentum for a bill before the Legislature
adjourns on June 1.
The move puts Emmett in a difficult position as he looks toward a 2010 re-election
campaign. Failing to implement the promised reforms could become a liability, but
former County Judge Robert Eckels earned the commissioners' wrath for advancing
his own agenda in Austin. Court members generally only lobby for bills they all agree
Emmett noted that any lawmaker could file a bill on county ethics reform and said he
would share his opinions with anyone who sought his input as a private citizen.
"I've stated publicly the things I'm in favor of all along," he said. "It wouldn't make
any sense for me to suddenly say ‘No, I can't comment on that.'?"
The recommendations were prepared by a five-member task force that Emmett
appointed a year ago as a wave of ethics controversies in county government
became an issue in the Republican primary campaign. The scandals dominated the
general election campaign, as well, with Democrat David Mincberg accusing Emmett
of fostering a "culture of corruption" since he took office in early 2007.
Stafford's report said the Commissioners Court could adopt other aspects of the plan
immediately, such as requiring candidates to submit campaign finance reports
electronically that can be posted online. But getting even those measures adopted
could be difficult. None of the commissioners has enthusiastically endorsed the plan.
Commissioner Sylvia Garcia has noted to lukewarm response that the court could
voluntarily adopt many of the ideas, as well as campaign contribution limits and
other proposals not included in the task force report.
Ruidoso News (New Mexico)
February 10, 2009 Tuesday
Legislature aiming for lobbyist transparency
Two pieces of legislation introduced this week during the session of the New Mexico
legislature are aimed at more lobbyist transparency.
State Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces) introduced House Bill 553, Disclosure of
Lobbyist Expenses, that would require a lobbyist's employer to file a new report with
all lobbyist's expenses used toward lobbying the state government, including
contributions, gifts and other expenses paid by their employers.
The report would show the aggregate total of the expenses as one number. Nineteen
members of the House of Representatives signed onto the bill.
"If enacted in law, it would for the first time allow New Mexico citizens to see how
much the special interests are spending to influence our state government,"
"It's equal opportunity in that it requires this level of disclosure from all lobbyists'
employers, private sector, public sector and non-profit. This bill will also require the
Secretary of State to post these reports on-line and update them as the information
changes and as lobbyists are hired throughout the Legislative Session."
Under the bill, the Lobbying Expenses Report must disclose all lobbyist's employer
expenses paid by a lobbyist's employer.
political contributions made by a lobbyist's employer.
other expenses incurred by a lobbyist including living expenses, expenses for
maintaining an office and other expenses incidental to lobbying by a lobbyist's
all compensation paid to the employer's lobbyist.
According to Steinborn, New Mexico lags behind most other states that already have
lobbyists' employers reporting requirements.
First-term State Rep. Eleanor Chavez (D-Bernalillo) introduced HB535 Wednesday
that would require each lobbyist to wear an identification badge while in the state
capitol during a regular session, a special session, extraordinary session or interim
The identification badge, which would be issued by the Secretary of State, must
disclose the lobbyist's name, the word "lobbyist" and the lobbyist's employers.
"We in the Legislature need to know at a glance who the lobbyists are and who they
represent," Chavez said. "This measure will bring critically needed transparency to
the legislative process and will increase the public's confidence in our government."
The recommendation to require lobbyists to wear badges disclosing their names and
clients was one of the recommendations adopted by the Governor's Task Force on
Ethics Reform in 2007.
The bill also would increase the annual filing fee for filing a lobbyist's registration
statement with the Secretary of State from $25 to $35.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
February 10, 2009 Tuesday
Bill would bar legislators from political consultancy
JEFFERSON CITY - Two Missouri lawmakers on Monday announced a bipartisan
attempt to target lawmakers who run political consulting businesses, similar to what
former House Speaker Rod Jetton did last year.
Jetton, the former speaker of the House, was criticized last year for running a
political consulting company while holding elected office. Jetton counted among his
clients members of the Senate who theoretically could have worked with Jetton to
advance, or stall, certain bills.
During the fall campaign, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder denounced his fellow Republican for
the practice. Now, Rep. Brian Yates, R-Lee's Summit, and Rep. Jake Zimmerman, D-
Olivette, plan to file a bill that would make what Jetton did illegal.
The bill also targets those lawmakers who leave elected office to immediately
become lobbyists. The bill would place a one-year freeze on the practice. This year,
two outgoing lawmakers, former Sen. Mike Gibbons, and former Rep. Shannon
Cooper, registered as lobbyists after their terms of office expired.
In a news conference, Zimmerman said it's ridiculous that the federal government
has such a freeze but Missouri doesn't. "We here in Missouri have no business having
ethical standards that lag behind Washington, D.C.," Zimmerman said.
Other provisions include banning fundraising on state property and barring
companies that contract with the state from donating more than $1,000 to any
Yates said he that had shared the draft legislation with House Speaker Ron Richard,
R-Joplin, but that the speaker had not yet "indicated to me his support or
Yates and Zimmerman predicted that with bipartisan support, there would be hope
for the new ethical standards.
Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
February 9, 2009, Monday
STATEHOUSE BEAT; Lobbyists are all set for next session
If there's one profession that appears to be recession-proof, it might be legislative
As of Friday, more than 300 lobbyists had already registered with the Ethics
Commission for the 2009 regular session - at a minimum registration fee of $100,
plus $100 for each entity represented - and that should keep them on pace to reach
the usual number of about 400 lobbyists.
Along with the regulars, there are some new faces registering as lobbyists this
That includes former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie
Timmermyer, who had not listed any clients as of Friday, and former House Majority
Leader Joe DeLong, who will be lobbying for the West Virginia Thoroughbred
The association is leery about legislation to move all agencies regulating gambling in
the state under a single state Gaming Commission.
DeLong, a Hancock County Democrat who gave up his seat in the House to make an
ill-fated run for secretary of state, is a licensed horse breeder and is knowledgeable
about the racing industry.
Also moving into a new capacity is Becky Neal, the former longtime assistant to
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin who had for the past few sessions lobbied on
behalf of her employer, BrickStreet Insurance.
Neal has formed her own company, the Neal Lobbying Firm. Her first client? You
guessed it - BrickStreet Insurance.
Also back as a lobbyist this session after an absence last session for a brief stint at
West Virginia University is Alex Macia. So far, he's representing the Association of
Chicago Sun Times
February 9, 2009 Monday
They gave big, they got big; 'Pay-to-play' probe looking at firms that were
big Blago donors
As part of their "pay-to-play" probe of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, federal
investigators are examining state bid proposals and other records from 18
heavyweight engineering and construction companies that made hefty political
contributions and got big contracts from the state and from City Hall, records show.
In all, the companies have made more than $3.6 million in campaign contributions
since the mid-1990s, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows.
More than a third of that -- about $1.3 million -- went to Blagojevich, whose
administration gave 11 of the companies $656 million in contracts since 2004.
Mayor Daley took $64,800 from the companies before he put a self-imposed ban on
accepting campaign cash from city contractors in the wake of the Hired Truck
scandal. Since 2004, 11 of the companies have gotten $183 million in city deals.
This latest window into the continuing Blagojevich investigation comes from a federal
subpoena that was served on the Illinois
Department of Transportation on Dec. 11 and made public in the wake of a
successful open-records lawsuit filed by the watchdog group the Better Government
None of the businesses named in the subpoena has been accused of any wrongdoing.
At least one of those companies received a separate subpoena of its own.
"I have responded to the subpoena; 22 boxes have been sent," said Diane French,
executive vice president and general counsel for DLZ Illinois, an engineering/design
French declined to say whether the company is working on any state-funded projects
in Illinois. She also would not comment on the firm's former lobbyist, John Wyma, a
longtime Blagojevich associate identified as "Individual B" in the criminal complaint
prosecutors filed when they arrested Blagojevich in December on charges that
included the explosive allegation that he'd try to sell an appointment to the U.S.
Senate to replace President Obama there.
Another firm named in the subpoena is Globetrotters Engineering Corp., headed by
Niranjan Shah, recently named chairman of the University of Illinois Board of
Trustees. Globetrotters has gotten hundreds of millions of dollars in city and state
business, and one of its subsidiaries helps run concessions at O'Hare Airport.
Shah said his company gets government contracts on merit, not as a result of the
thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he has given to Blagojevich and
"I don't think we got any special treatment," Shah said. "We are very careful. We're
a very good firm. We do lots of good projects. We have been in business for 35
Blagojevich's former chief of staff, Lon Monk, was Globetrotters' lobbyist the last two
years. Shah said the relationship ended in December, when Monk's contract expired.
In the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, Monk is the "Lobbyist 1" who is part of
an alleged shakedown scheme of a potential Blagojevich campaign contributor.
Other firms named in the subpoena include:
- Castle Construction and MBB Construction, both owned by Robert Blum, a onetime
business associate of former top Blagojevich fund-raiser Christopher G. Kelly. Castle
was general contractor for the $38 million Emil & Patricia A. Jones Convocation
Center at Chicago State University, which was dedicated last year. The company also
has done extensive work at O'Hare and at Chicago Public Schools buildings.
- Knight E/A Inc., an engineering company that has been linked to powerful
Downstate businessman Peter Fox and indicted former investment banker Nicholas
Hurtgen. In 2004, the wives of Fox and Hurtgen owned stakes in the company, which
has gotten Illinois Tollway work and was picked by the Blagojevich administration to
be construction manager for the $40 million World Shooting & Recreational Complex
in Sparta. Fox said he and his wife have "no active involvement" in Knight and have
sold most of their stock since 2004. Knight's lobbyist is Paul Rosenfeld, a Blagojevich
associate identified as "Lobbyist 2'' in the criminal complaint against the governor.
- Teng & Associates Inc., which is identified in the criminal complaint as "Engineering
Firm 1." Teng "received in excess of $10 million from the State of Illinois during each
of fiscal years 2004 through 2008," according to the complaint, and Blagojevich
allegedly was contemplating seeking more campaign cash from the firm in exchange
for tollway business. Rosenfeld also worked as a lobbyist for Teng.
- McDonough Associates, which has gotten $39 million in tollway contracts since
2002. Brian J. McPartlin, a former Illinois State Toll Highway Authority executive
director, announced in October he was leaving the agency to work for McDonough.
But then McPartlin decided not to take the job after Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest.
McDonough, Teng, Knight and MBB are named in a similar subpoena delivered to the
tollway authority on Jan. 27.
WHAT THEY GAVE, WHAT THEY GOT
A federal grand jury is investigating these 18 construction and engineering
companies, many of which got millions in state contracts and made hefty
donations to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
Company Contributions State to Blagojevich contracts since 2002 since 2004
AECom Companies* $0 Unknown
American Consulting Engineers* $58,000 Unknown
Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates $85,800 $7,288,293
Burns & McDonnell Engineering Inc. $57,500 Unknown
Castle Construction $116,000 $111.2 mil.
Homer L. Chastain & Associates $49,320 Unknown
Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers* $15,000 $109.6 mil.
Delta Engineering Inc. $127,000 $2.7 mil.
DLZ Illinois Inc. $86,000 Unknown
Environmental System Design $43,500 Unknown
Globetrotters Engineering Corp. $67,400 $33.9 mil.
HNTB Corporation $7,000 $106.2 mil.
Hutchison Engineering $22,500 $14.8 mil.
Knight E/A Inc. $148,726 60.6 mil.
MBB $117,500 $571,281
McDonough Associates Inc. $114,680 $79.5 mil.
Teng & Associates $105,035 $94.4 mil.
CH2M Hill Inc. $81,479 $35.7 mil.
TOTAL $1.3 mil. $656.4 mil.
*Owned by AECOM Companies
Sources: Federal subpoena, Illinois state Board of Elections, Illinois state comptroller
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
February 8, 2009 Sunday
Georgia's gift ban has wide loophole; Gov. Sonny Perdue made the rule but
still flies often on lobbyists' dime.
Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order on his first day in office in 2003
declaring he and most state workers wouldn't take any gifts worth more than $25
But last year he accepted a flight to Jacksonville for the Georgia-Florida football
game from a lobbyist for CSX Transportation, Atlanta Falcons tickets from his former
chief of staff who is now a prominent lobbyist, and refreshments at the Republican
National Convention from a lobbyist for AT&T, according to reports filed with the
State Ethics Commission.
In September, a Portuguese company that broke ground on a manufacturing
company in South Georgia last year paid for Perdue's flight to Milan, Italy, while he
was on a trade mission.
In previous years, Home Depot lobbyists paid to fly Perdue to Atlanta Motor
Speedway, and AFLAC lobbyists flew him to former President Ronald Reagan's
funeral in 2004.
How can Perdue do that? A loophole in the executive order that allows gifts to be
accepted "for purposes of tradition, ceremony, or inter-governmental relations, or
when acting as a representative of the Office of the Governor."
Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley cited those exceptions and said that in any case the
governor is not influenced by flights or tickets.
Over the past few years, Perdue has accepted fewer meals and perks from lobbyists
than many other officials, some of whom accepted $10,000 worth. Lobbyists spent
about $2,700 on Perdue during 2008, according to their disclosure reports (under
state law lobbyists, not politicians, report expenditures). Perdue's totals don't include
everything he's received. The Milan flight from EFACEC of Portugal did not have to be
reported under state law because it was paid for by a business that was not pushing
funding or legislation at the Capitol.
Perdue's executive order was part of a major ethics reform package he pushed when
he became governor. He called for funding increases to beef up the State Ethics
Commission, which enforces ethics laws. He vowed to ban most gifts to state
employees and promised to stop the revolving door of top staffers quitting to
immediately become statehouse lobbyists. Most of his initiatives were approved, but
ethics advocates say their success has been mixed.
"Georgia deserves to have a Legislature it can trust," Perdue said in 2003.
Perdue's six-page executive order says: "State employees must avoid any conduct,
whether in the context of business, financial or social relationships, which might
undermine the public trust."
But it contains this broad exception: "Where appropriate for purposes of tradition,
ceremony, or inter-governmental relations, or when acting as a representative of the
Office of the Governor or an agency, an employee may accept a gift on behalf of an
agency or the Office of the Governor."
Brantley, Perdue's spokesman, said the lobbyist gifts the governor accepted fall into
the "tradition, ceremony, or inter-governmental relations" category. In many cases,
Brantley said, the governor was attending events in his official capacity.
"The most important thing here is to prohibit attempts to gain influence through
improper spending, and that certainly was not the case in any of these situations,"
Brantley said Perdue "basically hitched a ride" to the Georgia-Florida game and so
saved the taxpayers money. He said the trip was disclosed so the public "would
clearly know that's what happened." But the ethics report merely lists the date, the
cost and says the expense was for "air transportation." It doesn't say the trip was for
the football game.
Brantley said the governor's office has reviewed the trips and decided they are
"consistent with the wording of the executive order." He said the order was intended
to restrict lobbyists' influence, "but you don't want it to limit your ability to be
Executive orders carry the force of law, but in this case it's unclear that a violation
would bring serious consequences. The order says, "Employees who violate this
order are subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment."
Suspected violations are supposed to be reported to the state's inspector general.
Elizabeth P. Archer, the inspector general, said she has not received any complaints
about lobbyist gifts to the governor. She has investigated ethics complaints in the
past and issued recommendations. But Archer, a Perdue appointee, does not have
the authority to take disciplinary action.
Archer said she likely would refer lobbyist complaints to the Ethics Commission. Rick
Thompson, the commission's executive secretary, said his office would not
investigate potential violations of the executive order since it is not part of state
ethics law. As long as gifts were disclosed in reports, "we would have no
jurisdiction," he said.
Emmet Bondurant, past chairman of the government watchdog group Common
Cause Georgia, said Perdue should be a leader on ethics.
"Not all people who have matters before the Legislature can afford private jets and
trips to private preserves and wild hog dinners," Bondurant said. "Early in his term,
the governor really tried to push ethics legislation, and his executive order was
setting his example. I am disappointed he is not living by his own executive order if
that is the case."
Neill Herring, a longtime environmental lobbyist at the Capitol who doesn't give
freebies, contends that Perdue is operating under two sets of rules: one for himself
and another for others.
"The thing is, Sonny thinks he's totally innocent in all of this," Herring said. "Other
people shouldn't do it; but it's OK for Sonny."
Most of the lobbyist spending on Perdue last year involved football.
He received tickets to several University of Georgia and Georgia Tech games from
those schools' lobbyists.
Georgia Tech lobbyist Dene Sheheane reported spending $1,008 on Perdue for the
Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, which Tech played in. Sheheane said Perdue took part in
the opening ceremony at the game. He and family members watched the game in
the school's box. Lobbyists for the state's major universities are traditionally among
the biggest spenders on policy-makers. University System officials have a lot at
stake, since the state budget includes more than $2 billion a year in funding for
schools. Officials say the tickets are paid for by school foundations and don't come
out of state funding.
Eric Tanenblatt, who was Perdue's chief of staff when he signed the executive order
on lobbyists in 2003, said the $228 he spent on Perdue's tickets for an Atlanta
Falcons game in November was on behalf of the team's owner, Arthur Blank.
Tanenblatt, who heads the government affairs practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge,
represents Blank's company.
Tanenblatt said Perdue attended the game in the owner's box for "economic
development purposes." He said Perdue mingled with people "that might potentially
be people who do business with the state."
Craig Camuso, lobbyist for CSX Transportation, reported spending about $700 to fly
Perdue to Jacksonville for the Georgia-Florida game and provide a game ticket and
lunch. A Perdue House floor leader, Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth), came along.
Camuso said there was "no agenda," meaning there was no specific legislation or
funding discussed during the trip. The railroad company, which has about 2,700
miles of track in Georgia, is based in Jacksonville.
"He [Perdue] is a big Georgia fan," Camuso said. "He's friends with one of the
executives in our company. We were more than happy to have him."
Below are some of the gifts lobbyists reported giving Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2008:
Craig Camuso, CSX Transportation
$707: Flight to Jacksonville for Georgia-Florida game, tickets and lunch
Dene Sheheane, Georgia Tech
$1,008: Football tickets and dinner
Chris Cummiskey, University of Georgia
$208: Football tickets
Eric Tanenblatt, AMB Group
$228: Falcons tickets
SOURCE: Lobbyist disclosure reports filed with the State Ethics Commission
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
February 7, 2009 Saturday
House defeats ethics measure
HARRISBURG -- To freshman Rep. Jim Christiana, it's a black-and-white issue:
Lawmakers should not receive outside income as lobbyists, or from law firms with
"It's a conflict of interest," Christiana, a Beaver County Republican, says flatly. "You
absolutely should not be allowed, under any circumstances, to work for a firm that
But after a tussle over House rules this week, a legislator can collect income from a
law firm with a lobbying arm, or even from a lobbying firm, and not violate the
chamber's standards. There are no legislators known to be lobbying, but several
work for law firms that lobby.
"The taxpayers," Christiana said, "don't want their representatives to receive money
from firms that lobby."
"No one is lobbying," said House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne County.
Republican Rep. John Maher of Upper St. Clair offered an amendment to prohibit it,
and his measure was approved unanimously this week. But within two hours the
House, controlled by Democrats, killed the lobbying ban by a 100-98 vote.
Just four Democrats voted with the Republicans, in effect, to retain the lobbying ban:
Reps. Bill Keller and Michael O'Brien of Philadelphia, and Reps. John Yudichak and
Mike Carroll of Luzerne County.
All Western Pennsylvania Democrats voted to kill Maher's amendment through a
motion by Rep. John Pallone, D-New Kensington, that declared it unconstitutional.
GOP members from the Pittsburgh area voted against Pallone's motion.
Maher's amendment, said Republican Rep. Doug Reichley of Allentown, was an
attempt "to take another step forward to restore integrity for this chamber."
"We thought it was important there not be this conflict of interest," Reichley said.
Pallone said he agreed with the thrust of Maher's amendment, but said it was "overly
broad" and created potential for the Supreme Court to say the House was regulating
the practice of law.
The House has a constitutional right to pass its own rules, Maher said. The issue is
about lobbyists, not lawyers, he said.
"I don't have a problem with the concept. I have a problem with the way it was
done," said Pallone, an attorney who said he has no lobbying income.
Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, said limits on outside income shouldn't be restricted
to attorneys and should include accountants and other professionals. Those holding
other jobs could be distracted and might do some of that work on state time, he
DeLuca said he intends to introduce legislation to limit lawmakers' outside income to
35 percent of their $78,315 state salary.
"That's a separate question," Maher said.
Eachus hinted that the issue could surface again. "I'm reviewing these issues and
hopefully will find a way to deal with it so there is no perceived conflict," Eachus
Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery County, is "of counsel" to a Philadelphia law firm
that lobbies. He is not a partner in the firm and has said he has no discussions with
the firm's lobbyists. He was unavailable for comment, but told the Philadelphia
Inquirer the Maher amendment might have cost him income.
Rep. Mike Gerber, another Montgomery County Democrat, is an associate at another
Philadelphia law firm that lobbies. Gerber lauded Maher's intent but said the
language was imprecise. At the law firm, Gerber said, "I've never been registered as
a lobbyist. I've never lobbied. I am walled off from any lobbying activity."
The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts)
February 6, 2009 Friday
No lobbyists for agencies
With lobbyists in the news, and not in a good way, in both Boston and Washington,
Governor Deval L. Patrick is attempting to put an end to the little known practice of
state government agencies hiring pricey lobbyists to lobby other state government
agencies. It seems more than a little incestuous, and with the governor trying to
both cut waste from the budget and enact ethics reform, this practice provides an
opportunity to do both.
It comes as no surprise that, according to The Boston Globe, lobbyists have already
sprung into action to lobby for the defeat of this anti-lobbying measure the governor
included in his recent budget proposal. Lobbyists are everywhere on Beacon Hill, just
as they are on Capitol Hill, and state agencies like the Massachusetts Turnpike
Authority and Massachusetts Convention Center Authority have employed their
services to make the case for funding or for the passage or defeat of legislation
pertaining to them.
"Everyone has to have a lobbyist. Why?" asked Secretary of State William Galvin in
The Globe, and the answer of course, is that they don't. The average citizen doesn't
have a lobbyist working on his or her behalf, nor do the beneficiaries of the many
programs for the disadvantaged that are always threatened by the chopping block. It
amounts to an attempt to game the system, in the words of the secretary of state,
and public-funded agencies shouldn't be using that money for that purpose.
Senate President Therese Murray has already come out in support of the ban on this
practice and we hope House Speaker Robert DeLeo will as well. It is unclear how
much money will be saved but any amount will be beneficial, and the demise of this
unfair and unseemly practice is of value in and of itself.
The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News
February 6, 2009 Friday
Key figure in Utah House ethics wars unveils reform plan
Feb. 6--A key player in last year's ethics wars has introduced legislation to overhaul
the process for hearing ethics complaints that even the House ethics committee
deemed deeply flawed.
Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, is sponsoring measure that would create a five-
member independent ethics commission -- which could hear complaints filed by any
member of the public -- and would greatly expand the code of conduct for public
"We would have been much better off if something like this had been in place in
recent months," Allen said, referring to the contentious House Ethics Committee
hearing against Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, in October.
"I do think an ethics commission is at the very heart of [ethics reform]," she
said. "It's the very foundation." Allen's proposal identifies many of the alleged
improprieties that surfaced in the past year, including some actions that Allen was a
party to helping level against Hughes. The ethics committee dismissed the charges
against Hughes. Her plan prohibits bribery or attempted bribery, bans making
threats against any public official or attempting to get a public employee fired,
requires the disclosure of a conflict of interest, bars any lawmaker from requesting
the state contract with a specific company and prohibits lawmakers from intervening
in court fights.
In the past year, for instance, the following ethics questions dogged lawmakers:
Former Rep. Mark Walker was accused of attempted bribery (he pleaded guilty to a
misdemeanor stemming from his bid for state treasurer).
Hughes was accused of threatening public employees and lobbyists.
Sen. Howard Stephenson's actions on behalf of specific companies were questioned.
Sen. Chris Buttars' letter to a judge on behalf of a friend temporarily cost him the
chairmanship of the Judicial Confirmation Committee.
Allen called her bill specific and realistic. "It's what the public expects of its
Legislature, and, frankly, I don't think that it's difficult for anyone to abide by."
Under her remedy, the five members of the ethics commission would be appointed
by the Senate president, House speaker, the minority leaders from each body and
one member agreed upon by the Senate president and House speaker.
Whenever the commission receives a complaint, the panel's executive director, who
would have subpoena power, would have 30 days to conduct an initial investigation.
The director could, if warranted, file a formal complaint to the commission, which
then could convene to publicly hear evidence against the accused.
The commission would forward its findings to the House or Senate, respectively, for
potential action against the accused legislator. To guard against so-called late hits
during campaigns, there would be a "blackout" of 30 days before a general or
primary election, during which time two-thirds of the commission would have to vote
in favor of convening an ethics hearing.
Hughes had claimed the charges against him were brought as an "October Surprise"
on the eve of his re-election to undermine his campaign.
Allen said House leaders have indicated that they want to spend a year studying the
process for screening ethics complaints, but she still plans to "throw this out there"
to get discussion started because she believes it has merit.
Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Holladay, who also was accused of ethical misconduct in October,
and Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, also have proposed the creation of an
independent ethics commission.