MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 5, 2013

Lobbyist proposal reeks


— A proposed change to increase the amount in meals and other gifts that a lobbyist can give to a legislator each year is just plain terrible.

The proposed change is part of a major overhaul of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission rules that govern the activities of candidates, campaigns and lobbyists, the Associated Press reports.

Under current rules, a lobbyist is limited to giving a legislator $100 worth of meals and gifts, with more than a dozen exclusions to what constitutes a thing of value. The new rule would increase the limit to $500, and eliminate the exclusions.

This proposal smells fishier than the seafood plates lobbyists will be more than willing to serve legislators.

We, the people, don’t have access to legislators like lobbyists do.

If a lobbyist can’t persuade a legislator with $100, they shouldn’t need $500 to make their point. If the idea is worth it, it doesn’t need a $500 “bonus” attached to it.

Lee Slater, an attorney who undertook a similar rewrite of the state’s election laws in the 1970s as Oklahoma’s election board secretary,  defended the increase, saying the $100 limit was too low and that the new rules will apply to a broader range of lobbyists, including state employees who serve as legislative liaisons as well as those who lobby state agencies.

While we agree with the proposal applying to a broader range of lobbyists, the limit should remain $100.

Most constituents give ideas with the price of a stamp.

The proposal reeks.