Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lobbyist not required to reveal info to public? I tell you it's a Bizzarro World

Sure, this was from 2004 but it's just gotten worse since then

As the Texas legislature embarks on a new session, multitudes of lobbyist descend on Austin. Some represent cities or counties but the vast majority no doubt represent the interests of vast corporations. In reading a piece our LMT had on this phenomenon this morning, I was particularly struck by the first few paragraphs. The essence of the passage is about how once again, the public is ignored in these matters of influece peddling. Well, you can read for yourself:

When Texas lawmakers begin grappling with the state’s massive budget shortfall next month, they will not be working alone: Cities, counties and other public entities — and,
of course, corporations and special-interest groups — will send hundreds of lobbyists to the Capitol to preserve and defend their interests.

With such a diverse group of interests and so much at stake, conflict is inevitable, which is why lobbyists are required by law to notify their clients if they represent two or more groups with clashing agendas.

Lobbyists are also required to notify the Texas Ethics Commission about any possible conflicts. Scores of lobbyists have done so in recent legislative sessions.

What is not required is for the public or elected representatives to be informed.

That is because the law, passed in 2001, prohibits the release of the conflict disclosure forms filed by lobbyists to the state ethics commission.

So, it looks like we do not have the right to be informed and neither do those who represent us. How's that for disenfranchisement of the populace? So much for Texas being a bastion of liberty and freedom. Well, it is, but  just for the lobbyists.  

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