Tag Archives: kentucky lobbying

Making it Easier to Bribe Public Officials

When the Kentucky state legislature passed a law in 2015 that prohibited lobbyists from giving gifts to lawmakers and making campaign contributions to candidates for the state legislature, some of the legislators who were on the losing side of that vote were none too pleased.

So in the true American way, they sued.

And won.

While The Curmudgeon is appalled that a federal judge saw things their way, he’s not a lawyer and not in a position to pass judgment on the legal merits of the court’s decision.

Although he will say that he thinks the decision stinks.

What he would like to address, though, are the arguments of those who filed the suit.

As reported by the Lexington Herald Leader,

In their lawsuit, the politicians argued that the ethics laws violate their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection by restricting their access to people who want to help them.

Restricting their access?  There was nothing in the law that prevented lobbyists from lobbying legislators.  They could call those legislators, make appointments with those legislators, and talk to those legislators.  They could do so in the lobby of the state capital (hence the term “lobbyist”), in their offices in the capital, or in their offices in their home district.

The lobbyists could knock on the door of legislators’ homes and ask for five minutes of their time.  They could talk to them in church, at town hall meetings, at Rotary Club meetings.  They could talk to legislators at the supermarket, at Walmart, at McDonalds.

They could talk to them anywhere.

In no way was the new ethics law “restricting their access to people who want to help them.” All it was doing was restricting lobbyists’ ability to pay legislators for the results their clients sought.

In other words, to bribe them.

The law was unfair, claimed those who sued.  One of them went so far as to give a wink and a nod to such inappropriate behavior, suggesting that “There always will be corruption.”

It looks like legislators in Kentucky are too much in love with those two-martini lunches, those boxes of cigars, those cases of wine, those hunting trips, and those tickets to college football and basketball games to let them get away.  Given the opportunity, a lot of lobbyists are going to do what they think they need to do to get their way, and it’s up to public officials to level the playing field for the public.

You know, the public:  the people those legislators were elected to represent.

But it looks as if in Kentucky, a lot of those legislators are more interested in representing their own interests than those of their constituents.