Kudos to Bob Davis and the staff for a great editorial about the issue of editing the language of the passed-in-a-real-big-hurry ethics laws last December. Do what you want elected officials and lobbyists--just don't do it "corruptly." Now honestly folks, do they really know any other way?
We don't always agree with the Star Editorial Board, but on this issue we salute them for a stellar editorial. Even if we don't not agree that any of the ethics laws are "good." They are better than what we had, but there's serious loopholes in them that will only get worse if Sumner and the gang start whipping out the edit pencils.
"Corruptly" is the word du jour and apparently it means different things to different people. What it means to us, along with this editing and rewriting, is that somebody(s) are up to no good. Lobbyists would be our first suspects. Financial gain by dubious politicians runs a close second.
The Ethics Commission acts on less than 5% of cases that come before it and as we have written before, with this do nothing commission serving as the gatekeepers on investigations and ethics violations, Corruption, Inc. will have no stern enforcers.
So none of it means really anything if enforcement is lacking. Not only is it lacking, it's practically non-existent according to the the EC's own records. Expect business as usual in the good ol' boy system of Alabama politics that thrives on "corruptly."
From the editorial:
What none of these men are doing is defining what type of gift-giving would be viewed as corrupt. How does the state compare one encounter between legislator and lobbyist with another? Does the state have a magic “intent meter” that it can use to gauge whether a lobbyist’s gift-giving is harmless or politically unlawful?
Or, as Jacksonville State University political science professor Lawson Veasey told The Star, “I think there’s … an implicit level of good ol’ boy politics in Alabama that basically overwhelms everything else.”
As anyone who understands the inner workings of Montgomery knows, it’s not as simple as using common sense and sound judgment. Political spin can attempt to make a covert, influence-peddling meeting between lawmakers and lobbyists seem as innocuous as a Wednesday night Bible study.
Adding the word “corruptly” to the law’s language may create more problems than it solves — for the ethics commission and for the state’s majority party.
The "new day republicans" are expecting a pass on this from the voters, and their base probably will give them one, but many others are paying close attention to what Sumner and the good ol' boys in the legislature are doing. And we don't think it's likely the 'get away' will be as 'clean' as they are hoping for.
Subscribe in a reader