The same rules that put a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers include a large loophole for travel, and also bar private citizens from lodging complaints against senators. You’ll recall that the recent complaint against Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour was filed by a junior majoring in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, who compared Balfour’s mileage claims and found lobbyists reported buying Balfour meals on the same dates in August in New Orleans and San Antonio.
Also of note, there are plenty of loopholes and exemptions for the proposed “gift limit”. It makes my spidey senses tingle. A “gift limit” won’t be the silver bullet for reforming ethics in our state. Proposing a “gift limit” while also preventing the public from making complaints (granted, some may be unfounded, but not all of them…) seems like a bad deal to me. I urge those Senators not to lock out the public at-large. You can tune into the debate that’s going on now in the Senate.
Another interesting provision of the rules that Jim points out:
Photographers and television camerapersons may NOT film or record the desk or any document or object on the desk of a Senator, unless permission is granted by the member.
No worries to all the Senators out there who read us. You can read our fine blog without being captured on the TV or in the newspaper. We know you don’t want to be reading what a bunch of political arsonists bloggers are saying about political rumors going around the Internets.
The measure (Senate rules) passes by a vote of 42 to 12.