Utah Legislature's 2nd Highest Priority: Reform Thy Lofty Self

In an atmosphere of environmental catastrophe brought on by greed (mostly) in high places, I think that maintaining the order of Utah's economic house must be our highest priority. Not far behind, however, is an issue closely related to the first--ethical lapses in high places. Rampant ethical laxness in the Utah legislator reflects very poorly on the predominant religion in Utah, especially because LDS lawmakers comprise a higher proportion of the legislature than

My state Representative recently

The current state of ethics in the Utah legislature should be profoundly embarrassing to all of us. Apparently, according to recent polls, ethics reform is finally on the radars of about 75% of Utahns.

sent out a mailer to gauge his constituents' views on various subjects. In the section labeled "Ethics Reform" he listed 5 or 6 issues and asked us to rank them in priority order. Here's how I ranked those six issues:

1
1
1
1
1 and
1

It doesn't matter necessarily how long the lobbyists have been able to take their pet legislative animals to a Jazz game. It doesn't matter how

I hope that ethical reform in this year's Utah Legislative Session will become a widely accepted litmus test.

many state employees have pulled a "Mark Walker" and gotten away with it. It neither matters how many bullies have perfected the Greg Hughes brand of influence, nor how many Phil Riesens have gleefully aired the legislature's dirty laundry. What matters is that the current state of ethics in the Utah legislature should be profoundly embarrassing to all of us. Apparently, according to recent polls, ethics reform is finally on the radars of about 75% of Utahns.

As the Deseret News recently reported:
"We have the most lax [ethics] laws in the nation," said Kirk Jowers, Director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.

[Governor Jon] Huntsman said Utah is one of the few states in America where campaign finance is "wide open, subject to abuse and mischief."
Lobbyists. 84% of Utahns think that legislators should not be allowed to be lobbyists until one year after they have left office.

84% of Utahns think that legislators should not be allowed to be lobbyists until one year after they have left office. How about ten years? How about never?

How about ten years? How about never? I'm not sure how a legislator can feel comfortable ignoring his/her real lobbyists--his/her constituents--in favor of those who give out lots of money and things. Lobbyists on K-Street in Washington are proving the downfall of the United States of America, and allowing Utah small-fry to act like their big brothers in the nation's capital is like drilling holes in the side of a sinking Titanic.

Gifts. Before he became mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker perenially supported banning nearly all legislative gifts. Year in and year out, Becker was slam dunked by the Republican aristocracy.

Campaign Funds for Personal Use. How this is not easily recognizable by nearly everyone as theft, I cannot fathom. Most people donate to candidates because they are running for office, not because they think they need a handout.

Corporations and industries donate to candidates because

How using campaign donations for personal use is not easily recognizable by nearly everyone as theft, I cannot fathom.

of the influence such bribes buy. In an effort to further remind legislators that they weren't elected by corporations, all donations from groups other than individuals should be banned.

Gerrymanderers 'R Us. Utah Republicans skittishness at handing over the reins of redistricting to a bi-partisan committee is a clear indication of their intoxication with power. Republican power brokers are less likely to give up gerrymandering than they are to give up any of the other emoluments of power--this despite the opposition of nearly 75% of Utahns.
. . .

I hope that ethical reform in this year's Utah Legislative Session will become a widely accepted litmus test. In other words, if a legislator votes against meaningful and reasonable ethics reform, he or she should be voted from office. Hopefully, legislators will support cramping their own style because they sincerely believe that it's far past time that we had honesty in the Utah Legislature. But even if they support ethics legislation just
because they want to be re-elected, that will be good enough.




Comments

  1. Frank,

    what were the issues that your rep listed in his survey?

    Not living in Utah, I am not familiar with the particulars but I think every state has the same problems. I have almost come to the conclusion that a man of principles and morals can not be elected to a significant office in California.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish I had written this article before I sent my responses in. I can't remember all 5 or 6. I specifically remember "legislative gifts" and "Campaign Funds for Personal Use". Another one was regarding an independent commission for ethics investigations. I think the bi-partisan re-districting may have been one of them.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. If you have a Google/Blogger account, to be apprised of ongoing comment activity on this article, please click the "Subscribe" link below.

Popular posts from this blog

"Mormon Leaks": What They Really Said-Senator Gordon Smith Discusses Politcs