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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ethics In Politics? - Arkansas Lobbyist In Disguise

Stop Wasting Money on Traditions & Practices
By Numerous Arkansas Tea Party Groups:  Arkansas Senate president pro tempore, Paul Bookout has named former state senator Steve Faris who has been termed out as a paid senate aide. This is an unnecessary position being paid for by tax payer money.

This position will basically create a "Lobbyist in Disguise" for Democratic policies and it's all being funded by your tax dollars. If you think this is the best manner in which your tax dollars are being spent then you don't have anything to be concerned about.

Senator Faris was the author of SB867 during the 2008 legislative session that devised a legislators pocket lining scheme which would have doubled the amount of money that legislators could personally keep from previous campaign contributions and would have allowed them to use campaign contributions from previous campaigns to pay for travel and lodging. The main issue with the scheme was that it was hidden in the back of an unrelated bill that was being touted as an "ethics" bill.

After someone from outside of politics read the bill and applied pressure to the authors the language was quickly removed before it could make headlines. [More on this bill in the below  article.]

This type of corruption and "example" of the "good ole boy" traditions and practices that have dominated Arkansas politics for years and must be fought at every corner.

Besides letting your State Senator know your feelings , let  Senator Bookout know your opinion on this appointment of a taxpayer funded aide. Senator Bookout can be reached at 870-932-6662, 870-935-8030, or email,

Six months ago, the ARRA News Service addressed Traditions and Practices Costing Arkansas Taxpayers and that "in Arkansas the issue of ethics in government is often obscured. . . . After 136 years of single party rule, . . . there has been a lot of "tradition and practice" masking of situations, processes and procedures that fleece money from people, that make more people dependence on government, and that corrupt people we have elected. Words like "this is how we have always done it" and relying on unwritten "tradition and practice" is not a suitable response or a justification for continuing to expand government growth, government spending, or fraud, waste and abuse by government."

We identified at that time, that hence forth, there will be no free passes for "traditions and practices" costing Arkansas taxpayers. Well, the above situation is another questionable Democrat "practice."

The below article was written in 2009 and  provides background information related to the  the above participants. It evidences that concern over the hypocrisy in Arkansas ethics. Fortunately, the rise of numerous Tea Parties, Patriot groups, and other watchdog organizations in Arkansas, more light will be focused on fraud, waste, abuse and inbred familiarity in Arkansas politics. The traditions and practices that abuse Arkansas taxpayers needs to cease. We can no longer afford it!

By Todd Sharp (2009): There have been several references to SB867 in the papers recently but after reading Michael Wickline’s article titled “Bill targets lobbyists who pay and run” I felt compelled to address the issue within the issue.

After reading on several occasions how Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and SB867’s sponsor Senator Steve Faris described the “ethics” bill I was convinced that our legislators were doing something right. Both of these politicians touted this bill as an “ethics” bill that would stop lobbyist from paying for a legislator’s meals and other activities if the lobbyist was not present. My only thought was why has this practice not been eliminated before?

Finally my curiosity and skepticism got the best of me and I went to the Arkansas legislative website (where anyone can read legislation for themselves) to see what SB867 was really all about. What I discovered when I read this bill infuriated me.

Deep in the back of the bill were two provisions, the first would allow legislators to double the amount of campaign funds that they had previously been allowed to keep and the second allowed legislators to start using campaign funds for meals, travel, and lodging.

Why were these provisions that line the pockets of legislators stuck in the back of an “ethics” bill that was touted as targeting lobbyist? And, why did Mr. McDaniel and Mr. Faris fail to mention these provisions when pontificating on the honorable merits of the bill while addressing the media? Were they camouflaging the meat of the bill by calling it an ethics bill that limited lobbyists?

Could the real motive behind this bill have been to generate more campaign contributions by lobbyists and their employers to legislators while allowing them to keep and use a larger amount of such campaign funds?

Ethics? Does anyone wonder why politicians are not listed very high on the list of “most honorable professions” anymore?

Before I continue, I’d like to point out that after people started questioning the legitimacy of these provisions being stuck in the bill and after Senator David Johnson did the honorable thing by removing his name as a co sponsor of the bill because of the out of place provisions – the provisions were eventually removed. But the point remains why did they try to slip them in the back of the bill to begin with?

If our legislators wanted to pass some ethical legislation concerning lobbyist, then why wasn’t SB883 passed? SB883 was a bill that would require legislators to wait at least a year after leaving office before they could become a salaried lobbyist? I mean common sense would tell us that the best way for a “special interest” to reward a legislator for helping pass a piece of favorable legislation would be to offer him a future position as a paid lobbyist. But that would not happen; it would not be “ethical”.

How did our legislators respond to SB883 which offered real ethics reform? They shut it down in committee and the Speaker of the House Robbie Wills called it “A solution looking for a problem”. Maybe Speaker Wills is just “too close” to the problem?

The problem is that when lobbyists and legislators get together far too often citizens get fleeced! It’s a case of the fox (legislators) guarding the hen house while the lobbyists are feeding the chickens. Both have a vested interest that doesn’t always have the best interest of the chickens at heart!

If our politicians were really interested in ethics reform concerning lobbyists and their employers – maybe someone would sponsor legislation that would limit lobbyist or companies that hired lobbyist from giving campaign contributions to legislators that pass the bills that affect them. But that would be implying that money influences politicians – and that’s not possible; it would not be “ethical”.

If we as citizens and voters want to see a real effort to instill ethics and reform in our government we must educate ourselves, read the legislation that is being passed for us to live under, pay attention to how our legislators vote, and hold them to a new standard of accountability. Our legislators thrive off of hard working people that make our communities thrive and are just too busy to pay attention to what our politicians are doing.

Our politicians should not tell us what “ethics” reform they are going to pass. We should tell them what we expect, demand that they do it, and hold them accountable when they don’t by electing someone who will.
Todd Sharp is a conservative activist from Little Rock and is active in the Arkansas Tea Party and is the State Coordinator for Secure Arkansas.

Tags: Arkansas, State Senate, ethics, lobbyist, aide, Democrats, plantation politics, traditions, practices, waste, taxpayers money To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 5:59 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Christine Keller said...

Get ready, tea party friends, because the next legislative session is going to be full of things we must oppose and things we must support. This is a great example of the "good ole boy" system that needs to end in Arkansas. If you agree, take a really quick minute to send a respectful e-mail to Senator Bookout. Why not while you're thinking about it and while you still have freedom to do so?


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