Lobbyists usually give gifts to legislators in the form of meals so they can discuss with them bills they’d like to see passed or defeated.
Members of the state Ethics Commission, which among other things regulate the conduct of elected officials, say they don’t want to pass rules that would interfere with giving lobbyists access to lawmakers.
But they’ve expressed concern the past couple years over expensive dinners costing $100 or more and tickets to concerts and sporting events, usually football game. That gives lobbyists an advantage over constituents, who have to take time off from their jobs and drive to the state Capitol at their own expense and may not have enough money to take their legislator out even to a fast-food place they say.
And how much talking about issues can be done during high-priced concerts and football games, Ethics Commission members wondered. So they proposed, and legislators did not kill, a new rule that took effect July 1 that reduces from $300 to $100 the amount spent on gifts for legislators and elected officials by a “lobbyist principal” during a calendar year. Lobbyist principals are companies or associations that hire lobbyists and provide the money to buy meals and other gifts for legislators.
Lobbyists who have spent more than $100 on things of value to an elected official so far this year can’t spend any more on that official for the rest of the year.
During the first six months of this year, lobbyist reports show several legislators were treated to concerts by lobbyists. They were given a pair of tickets ranging from $127 to $160.
See if you can match the legislator with the concert tickets he received. Answers at the bottom.
1. Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. A. Black Crowes
2. Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo B. Huey Lewis and the News
3. Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City C. Kenny Chesney
4. Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City D. Tom Jones
Answers: 1-B; 2-A; 3-D; 4-C
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau