In case you haven’t heard, Governor Bob Riley announced Wednesday that Alabama lawmakers will show up to work more than 3 months early for a Special Session on ethics reform.
Riley’s call for a Special Session included bills to outlaw or limit certain lobbyists practices as well as those that happen during campaigns.
It turns out, those who wanted an overhaul of the state’s ethics laws won out in this policy battle. That’s contrary to those who just wanted the governor to address the big bullet point issues: PAC to PAC transfers, lobbyist disclosure, and subpoena power for the ethics commission.
The bills that Riley’s team of 6 appointed lawmakers and policy analysts converged on have much more than that.
One of them essentially rewrites the state’s ethics codes. There is a lot of crossed out type and addition descriptions in there. It seems that it is an attempt to leave no stone unturned in the ethics field.
Democrats are criticizing Riley for calling a Special Session now instead of doing it at some point during the last years. That argument would hold more weight had Democratic leaders in the Senate actually addressed the ethics-related bills that their colleagues in the House passed.
Gov. Riley does not blame all Democrats for not passing ethics reform sooner. He has kept calling this a “historic opportunity” with the new leadership in place.
Some Democrats I’ve spoken to however have some very real concerns about this ethics legislation. In particular with the PAC to PAC transfers bill.
It leaves out PAC to political party transfers, which is very similar to a political action committees giving to each other because you still can’t see exactly where the money is coming from. Political parties could then be the engine to hide the source of campaign donors.
On the flip side of that, it is a tough argument to say that PACs can’t donate to political parties and they can solely contribute to candidates. When PACs were created it was with the intention that they could donate to parties but the rules have been bent, twisted, and turned in so many ways that PACs have taken on a much different role today.
We’ll have another post up on Monday leading into the Special Session.
On a lighter note: Congratulations to newly elected Prattville Senator Bryan Taylor on the arrival of his new son Samuel (7 lb 10oz.). He is completely healthy and doing great. Sen. Taylor’s wife is also doing very well and they should be home by Sunday. Congrats!
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