Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lobbyist Ban… Where’s the Screaming?

Lobbyist contributions forbidden? Two questions… Why was this not existing law? Anyone doubt Fletcher and Northup were screaming when ruling occurred?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The three gubernatorial slates that contain state legislators may be at a disadvantage in raising campaign funds, due to a ruling today from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The panel unanimously voted that lobbyists cannot contribute to a gubernatorial slate that contains a legislator. The action was a response to a question to the commission on whether a non-legislative member of a gubernatorial slate can request a lobbyist to contribute to the campaign. The panel did not make public who raised the question. George Troutman, chairman of the commission, said a slate that disagrees with the panel's ruling could take the issue to Franklin Circuit Court. He said any affected slate that already has received money from a lobbyist would have to return it.

Three legislators are running on gubernatorial slates this year. House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, is running as lieutenant governor candidate with former U.S. Rep.Anne Northup, Democratic House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green is a candidate for governor and Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard is the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear. Rep. David Osborne, a Republican from Oldham County, has proposed a measure in this year's legislative session that would allow legislators running for office to accept contributions from lobbyists as well as another proposal that would ban all candidates from taking lobbyists' money. He suggested that provision as an amendment to a Senate campaign finance bill that has been stalled in the House.

Osborne, who is backing Northup and Hoover's ticket against Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Paducah businessman Billy Harper, said he hasn't spoken to any of the lawmakers running for state office about his proposals. Currently, legislators are barred from taking campaign contributions from lobbyists who are paid to urge lawmakers to pass or oppose certain proposals. That means even state legislators who are running for another state office, such as governor, attorney general or treasurer, cannot take checks from lobbyists. But their opponents who aren't legislators can. The ethics ruling today means the law also applies to the slate.

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