The following is an editorial from FOX6 WBRC-TV General Manager Lou Kirchen, first aired on Thursday, December 2, 2010:
As it stands, right now, Alabama ethics law has no limit on how much lobbyists can spend to entertain lawmakers, that is, for food, golf, event tickets and the like. It doesn't mean a lobbyist can give them large gifts, like a vehicle or money. Rather, the gifts must be entertainment-based and Alabama law allows those kinds of expenditures up to $250 a day to go unreported.
Essentially, that means a lobbyist could spend $250 per lawmaker every day without being required to disclose that information to a public agency. You do the math.
In the special session expected to begin next week, a cap on lobbyists' expenditures and more rigorous requirements for the reporting of those gifts, will be proposed.
I, for one, believe that lobbying, advocating for one's position on an issue, has its place in our political system. Effective lobbying on both sides of any issue provides valuable insight to busy congressmen and their staffs as they try to effectively understand and vote on volumes of legislation. However, less generous limits should be put in place to insure the practice of lobbying is not abused. That's what I think…what do you think?
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