Monday, February 4, 2008

Louisiana Ethics Special Session

The governor, as promised, has called a special session of the legislature to deal with ethics. In the proclamation, he outlined what he would like to see accomplished. Go here to read the proclamation.
This is a big roll of the dice for Jindal. We will know by the end of February if he will come out with the legislation that he wants, and in turn will have what he likes to call his mandate reinforced, or if he will walk away disappointed and disillusioned, Buddy Roemer style.
Some of the things he asks for will be passed promptly, without much opposition. There are several sticking points also.
Applying the rules to local elected officials had the ethics bill in the last session quashed by Robert Adley, who does business with municipalities. Adley at that time said “This whole thing has been a sham, hiding behind local government. (We) “worked very hard to put together a disclosure package for legislators and it’s not our job to sit here and pass it on to local government.” This is at odds with the current governor, who believes that indeed it is the job of the legislature to do just that. Of course, Adley had an epiphany on the road back home to Benton, and expressing his love and admiration for the new governor, switched to the Republican Party.
Adley is just one voice of many, each with its own peculiar perspective.
The indication from Adley concerning the new call so far seems negative. "I don't know anyone whose integrity is at risk over a hot dog and a can of beer or a steak and glass of tea or wine," Adley said. "We like to talk about things that ought to be talked about but don't particularly address a problem. If you are going to send the message to America, let's make it a good message. Let's have some substance with what we've said."
Campaign finance reform is on the governor's list, and that is like trying to take honey from angry bees. More disclosure and transparency in this area would be welcomed by the people, but the powers that be in the legislature are sure to attempt to water this one down.
I have predicted before, and do so again, that a bill will be passed and that both the Governor and the legislators will take credit for 'cleaning up state government'. That they will do that is a no-brainer. The true test will be in the quality of the legislation. Keep your eye on local disclosure and campaign finance reform. These two things will determine whether or not we will truly have 'gold standard' ethics legislation.
We will see.

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