Many state legislators were recently caught not reporting gifts from special interest groups. The fines were rather small but I am always amazed legislators don't reject more gifts to avoid the appearance of impropriety or to deprive their opponents of easy attacks.
Click here for the article. Here are some of the local connections:
• Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, $154 for a reception and travel costs from the Bank of America Corp., and $94 for a dinner from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians.
• Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, tickets of $60 for concerts of Keith Urban and George Strait, respectively, by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians.
Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark, $83 in Billy Joel concert tickets from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians.
I didn't know Billy Joel has kept touring. His We didn't start the fire song is really popular with history teachers but I am disappointed with the end of it. He finishes a great song with "cola wars I can't take it anymore" and overturns a table. After a song that covers some heavy issues the event that pushes him over the edge is the cola wars?
Who do you think came out ahead in this story? It surely wasn't the public who is weary of this type of influence peddling. Sure they might vote for you but frequently it isn't because they trust you much it is just that they trust the other party even less.
Note to elected officials: The average voter doesn't think it is okay for you to take concert tickets and other gifts that are obviously being given to influence you from special interest groups. The small gifts aren't worth the trust you are losing. We pay you fairly high salaries. Please pay for your own meals and tickets.
Campaign donations are supposedly to help elect people that a group agrees with on policy. But gifts aren't given to help elect a candidate usually. This report is just the gifts that candidates didn't report for a variety of reasons including clerical mistakes and misunderstanding the law.
Imagine all the perfectly legal and reported gifts being given to people that are supposed to be looking out for our best interests.
UPDATE: I know our local legislators are going to keep taking tickets from groups trying to influence them but I have thought of a compromise. There should be a local raffle where the voters have a chance at winning concert tickets given to our legislators. Who's with me?