Utah legislators and freebies like death and taxes

They just can’t help themselves.

Even amid unprecedented attention to legislative ethics this year, state lawmakers continued to wallow in gifts from lobbyists. An Associated Press story details freeloading during the 2009 legislative session.

Whether tone deaf, clueless or arrogant, legislators have no excuse for taking free food and entertainment from lobbyists. Notables at the trough this year include Ogden Democratic Rep. Neil Hansen, who should know better because his party was the sponsor of this year’s major ethics cleanup proposals.

Blatant gift system participants again this year, no surprise and worth pointing out again, were Republicans Rep. Mike Noel of Kanab and Sen. Steve Urquhart of St. George. This chronically ethically challenged pair make no pretenses about their disdain for greater state government openness and their ax-to-grind attitude against news reporters who attempt to document their operations.

Also deserving a slap is Gov. Jon Huntsman, who took $150 in University of Utah basketball tickets — this by a governor who less than two years ago banned state executive branch employees from accepting gifts. His spokeswoman’s explanation that the hoop tickets were exempt as a government-to-government gift is an additional insult.

It’s all pathetic, and supportive of the increasing sentiment to throw out the whole bunch next election.

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2 Responses to Utah legislators and freebies like death and taxes

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    It’s disgusting that they line up at the trough for these goodies and appalling that too many voters enable it by not demanding change.

  2. flatlander100 says:

    The legislative majority, as we all now know, in response to overwhelming public demand for ethics reform, including a gifts ban, served up instead some feel good legislation that did not even prevent ex-legislators from lobbying their former comrades for a year after leaving office, and a gifts “reporting” reform that has so many loopholes it resembles Swiss Cheese.

    If the Bramble & Co. were serious either about ethics reform or about listening to the majority of their constituents — as of course they are not — they’d have done, even as a beginning, two things they did not do: first, a ban on all lobbying of legislators by former legislators — for pay — for 24 months after they leave office. And second, a flat gift ban from lobbyists or anyone with business pending before the legislature.

    But it really wouldn’t even take that. What we need are legislators…. D and R and I…. with sufficient integrity to just say “no” when offered anything by a lobbyist. Legislators shouldn’t need laws to make them behave ethically. And it is not ethical to accept meals, Jazz tickets, golf trips, etc. just so long as they get reported. There are some who say “no.” But not nearly enough. Instead we have the ludicrous situation in which our legislative leaders insist gifts have no influence on their votes or other public actions at all while they fight fiercely to arrange to keep getting them.

    The boys want to see the Jazz play, they can dig down and shell out their own money, just like the rest of us. Ditto eating out. But it’s not going to happen. Voters have short short memories and when the boys run for office again in 18 months, they’ll gin up some frightening ogre [largely imaginary] to dupe the rubes yet again…. “the gays are coming for your daughter!” or “the Commies are stealing your children’s minds” or “there’s an atheist teaching in a public school” or if not that, something else. And true reform will be lost again in the resulting smoke and mirrors.

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