To respond to another comment, I appreciate Lorena bringing up the disclosure that’s already being done because it’s required by every contributor, be they an individual or a political action committee. My point about the pending ordinance is that people are trying to aggregate donations under someone’s name with a clear intent of trying to label them as suspicious and any support a politician gives this individual’s client suspect.
Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but if I exercise my constitutional right to contribute to a candidate, it is disclosed. To try and say that if my clients contribute or anyone else I affiliate with contributes, that all should be attributed under my name is an unfair and inequitable method of disclosure. If organized labor is willing to have its independent political action efforts quantified and disclosed in the same manner for each and every issue it pursues, well that might be a good step in the direction of equity in disclosure.
But I don’t think that’s necessary. Disclosure already occurs. This requirement is simply meant to further politicize the process and will only play to the cynical mindset of the public. Remember, even Lorena raised money from people like me and I wouldn’t accuse her, should she have been elected, of being corrupt or influenced by these contributions.
What’s interesting to me is that those backing this new ordinance use the well-publicized corruption cases we’ve faced over the last several years as an example of why this is needed. Why is that interesting … because that situation would not have been prevented by this new ordinance. Lance Malone never registered as a lobbyist, in violation of the existing ordinance. Unless this new ordinance can somehow find a way to divine if there’s a quid pro quo relationship, it will not work. Maybe the intent is to make the lobbyist guilty until proven innocent. This indirect presumption of guilt is what’s at the heart of my problem with this ordinance.
As an aside, you can try and get rid of lobbyists, but, contrary to some, you don’t need a lobbyist to develop these types of already illegal relationships … anyone remember Duke Cunningham?
If you’re going to break the law, you’re going to break the law … putting the onus on the lobbyist might feel good, and perhaps show that the government is being tough on these “evil, greedy” shills, but it’s not going to solve the problem.
It’s like saying if we outlaw guns, we’ll eliminate crime … at that point, the only people who will have guns are the outlaws.
If we could find a way to outlaw corruption in politics, I’d be all for it. Perhaps we should use polygraphs and psychological examinations to determine if a candidate for office is predisposed to criminal behavior. Heck, we could even implement that standard to become a registered lobbyist! OK, maybe all we’ll find out is that both are unbalanced … hey, just kidding all you lobbyists and elected officials.
In my opinion, the issue here is enforcement. And rather than think of the recent corruption cases as an example of why the ordinances need to be tightened, perhaps we ought to think of them as an example of the system working. Either way, new standards won’t fix those problems and thinking they will is, simply put, wrong.