I hesitate to take the word of a convicted felon but since Jack Abramoff’s name was brought up in the comments over the weekend to bolster the idea of a complete ban of lobbyist gifts let’s discuss what he said in Florida last week:
Money is the root of evil in politics, said the man who spent 43 months in federal prison for mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe and tax evasion. One day after the nonpartisan Integrity Florida group released a report saying the state led the nation in federal corruption convictions from 2000 to 2010 (780 federal convictions in the past decade – Buzz), Abramoff told the Capital Tiger Bay Club it makes no sense to limit lobbyists’ wining and dining of lawmakers.
“If the lobbyist can still hand over bunches of $500 checks, does it really matter that he’s not buying the hamburger?” Abramoff said in response to a question about Florida’s law. The gift ban forbids lobbyists to host a party or buy lunches for elected officials — but they can go Dutch, and lobbyists can bring unlimited batches of $500 campaign contributions from all of their clients.
Apparently this didn’t set will with some in the audience. Ambramoff went on to say…
“Any conveyance of a financial interest, whatever it is, by someone who is trying to get something out of the government, to a public servant who is going to give it to them, what is that? What should we call that? Bribery, right,”
The key phrase there is “who is going to give it to them.” If someone donates to my campaign it shouldn’t be to insure my vote. That’s illegal.
So if “money is the root of all evil” in politics what then? Public financing of elections? That’s a colossally bad idea. Let’s disclose everything and enforce existing Georgia law. Vote out the bad guys and replace them with good ones.