There is an organization called Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG).
About October of last year (2012) UEG conducted a survey of candidates seeking office in the state legislature. The survey had three questions:
- If you are elected, will you support legislation to prohibit a Utah legislator from simultaneously serving as a paid lobbyist?
- If you are elected, will you support legislation to establish a two-year waiting period before a legislator can become a paid lobbyist after leaving the Legislature?
- If you are elected, will you support legislation closing two major loopholes in the 2010 lobbying reform act that (1) allow lobbyists to pay for meals for groups of legislators and (2) require no disclosure of that fact?
Those are three straight forward questions.
Of course some candidates, that like to parse issues until they are a jumble of confusion, will pontificate endlessly about the complexity of those questions. It crosses my mind that those individuals are actually struggling with the issue of “getting caught”. What do they fear “getting caught” at? Being held to a standard. If they answer the question with a “yes”, then they believe they will be forever obligated to live by those answers. If they answer in the negative they believe they will be judged as self-serving cads.
Thus they choose to conveniently evade answering the questions…alleviating themselves from comparison to current or future ethical standards.
To the three questions above about 50% of the candidates last year turned up the collar of their collective trench coats and pulled their hats low, seeking to avoid a stance on basic ethical behavior. Said the UEG website:
“Notable non-responders were Republican Sens. Mark Madsen, John Valentine, Curt Bramble, Allen Christensen, Lyle Hillyard, David Hinkins, Steve Urquhart and Reps. Wayne Harper and Evan Vickers, who are House members running for open Senate seats. (emphasis added).
Our local senator evaded answering three simple questions about the ethics of lobbying. To what end? I suspect it was a feeble effort to avoid trapping himself in the corner of self-deceit. The fact is that the senator was already engaged in lobbying.
Lobbying is simply “getting gain for advocating that the government treat one person better than another”. Can a lobbyist possibly seek to get gain without embedding a bias in their legislative duty. I contend that they cannot.
Therefore, you answer these questions:
- Do you support legislation to prohibit a Utah legislator from simultaneously serving as a paid lobbyist?
- Do you support legislation to establish a two-year waiting period before a legislator can become a paid lobbyist after leaving the Legislature?
If you answered “yes” to these questions than you should be asking for accountability from your locally elected state legislator. If that accountability question is met with defensiveness, as it was on the senator’s blog, it suggests he is attempting complicate a simple matter.
A full and detailed investigation into the government decision to knowingly and belligerently bankrupt a local business should be conducted. There is no justification for a legislator to get gain from lobbying at the expense of any constituent. A full independent investigation into the matter will determine if he is worthy to hold office. It will determine if the state sanctioned abuse should be held accountable.
And, above all else, it will articulate the absolute need for an independent Ethics Commission that evaluates the conduct of elected legislators…even the ones that evade simple questions.