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April 30, 2005

Who's lobbying who on what? You'll never really know.

Good article from Kathy George in the P-I today about how little state lobbyists' disclousre reports actually disclose.

The American Insurance Association was concerned with "insurance," the National Football League cheered for "professional sports," and Verizon plugged into "telecommunications," to name a few examples from Carney Badley Spellman, the largest lobbying firm of all.

Reporting a vague agenda "technically" may satisfy the rules, said Phil Stutzman, the Public Disclosure Commission's compliance director. But it doesn't tell what specific bills or issues were subject to paid lobbying, and that's the whole point of the reporting law, Stutzman said.

Kathy drops the tantalizing hint that at least one [unnamed] state legislator is "interested in changing Washington to a Wisconsin-style system, which requires lobbyists to report each specific bill supported or opposed and how much time was spent on each bill."

Seems like a pretty good idea to me: daylight is a powerful disinfectant.

And while we're at it, I don't see why we shouldn't use modern information technology to enable lobbyists to report their time weekly -- so that the public can see who's spending time and money lobbying our legislators in near-real-time.  But of course, if there's one thing we can expect lobbyists to lobby against, it's accountability. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on April 30, 2005 at 10:57 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink


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