Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shaking the money tree in Raleigh

The legislature had barely adjourned early Friday – about 1:09 a.m., according to the Associated Press – when legislators and would-be legislators started sending invitations hitting up lobbyists for campaign contributions. State law prohibits fundraising during legislative sessions, so the fun couldn't start until adjournment.
The new omnibus ethics law bans direct contributions from lobbyists to politicians, but the section of the law banning contributions from lobbyists won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2007. So there’s a gap, and lawmakers and candidates running for office this year are taking advantage of it.
Here’s what one veteran lobbyist, a Democrat, told me via e-mail:
“My opinion only----Banning lobbyist contributions has no practical value. It only requires more paper work to form your own PAC. The pressure is from the membership.. We received 5 [five] request from members or potential members today, with closing Friday AM. How do I avoid the request?????-- Or expectations ???? I am sure I am not the only one who received requests today MONDAY.”
Another veteran lobbyist, a Republican, sent this e-mail: “I received three letters today from legislators asking for money. Will they never get it?”
The answer, evidently, is obvious.
It’s important to realize that there’s a serious co-dependency going on in Raleigh. Lobbyists need legislators and must gauge whether their clients will be at a disadvantage if they don’t donate to politicians. And politicians know this, and send out tons of invitations giving lobbyists the opportunity to contribute or to help round up contributions from their clients to lawmakers.
The direct ban on contributions next year won’t change this symbiotic relationship because the law still allows lobbyists to help raise funds for politicians.


Mike said...

Never has it been so clear that we have "legislators of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, for the lobbyists, (which) shall not perish from the state."

Somewhere, I think we missed a fork in the road....

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