That’s a lot of money

A new rule increases by 500 percent the amount in meals and other gifts a lobbyist can give to a legislator each year. That comes to $500 per lawmaker. Here’s a little math, so check it twice because we are journalists.

There are 149 solons at the state Legislature. If all of them receive the maximum $500 from all 369 registered lobbyists, that comes to $27,490,500 spent influencing political decisions that affect every taxpaying citizen.

Spending nearly $27.5 million can create a lot of graft and corruption and influence peddling.

We’re
not suggesting that’s going to happen. It’s just the worst-case
scenario with lobbyists wielding more power than the average Joe or Mary
Jane. Actual 2013 figures from the Ethics Commission reveal lobbyists
spent $165,454 on food and gifts for their favorite solons.

New
Ethics Commission chairman Lee Slater defended the new rule by
insisting the old limit of $100 per lawmaker was too low and that the
new maximum will apply to a broader range of lobbyists.

We’re not positive, but most voters don’t have $500 to shell out to influence
politicians on a single issue. We’re just asking, but why should
lawmakers receive free food and other gifts to perform the job voters
hired them to do? Just thinking out loud.

Gazette staff

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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