Opinionated @ CFE

Current Ethics Efforts Put Effort Into the Wrong End of the Problem


After the legislature decided to do as close to nothing as possible about perceived ethics problems earlier this year, some citizens were left a bit steamed. There do appear to be a lot of conflicts of interest in the legislature (like a full-time lobbyist as a legislator) and while there have been some rather blatant conflicts of interest (I’m looking at you, Aaron Tilton), tightening up gifting, spending, and lobbying rules is an ineffective way to take care of the problem.

The real problem is that when each legislator is given enough power to push through legislation on their own, they become a magnet for lobbying. No matter how many rules you make, no matter how many laws you pass, no matter how harsh the punishment, the problem of a single legislator wielding considering individual influence and power will still exist. This is only compounded when the number of constituents represented by each of them increases, resulting in a need for even more funding to effectively campaign for office.

I think the appropriate remedy for this situation is to keep adding members of the House of Representatives, both at the state and federal levels. Not only do you dilute the power of the individual lawmakers, you greatly increase their responsiveness to constituents and spread the lobbying dollars much more thinly. It may also put an end to oddly-drawn district boundaries since they can be made smaller and thus more compact. The door is also opened to third-party and independent candidates who can invest plenty of time and not a lot of money.

Additional rules only create additional loopholes. Let’s go for a solution that really takes care of the problem.

2 Responses to Current Ethics Efforts Put Effort Into the Wrong End of the Problem

  1. Pingback: Indulging Our Laziness @ Opinionated @ CFE

  2. The fact is that there are very few ethics rules for legislators on the books in Utah at the present time which means they can conduct their “business as usual” with impunity.

    To make the statement that substantially adding a set of comprehensive ethics rules to the law as proposed by the Government Ethics Reform initiative would not be effective is a bit premature in my opinion since that has never been tried before in the state of Utah.

    It is similar to the well worn expression from the Republican Right that “throwing money at education will not solve the problem”. In reality that is only a theory, because here in Utah, it has actually never been tried.

    I believe that adding more legislators like the ones we presently have would be just like planting more weeds in the garden. A better solution would be to work to replace those we have with honest individuals who are more interested in serving the public than in serving themselves and their own special interests. A well crafted set of Ethics Rules can’t help but to keep honest politicians honest, and to weed out those who are not.

    Just another opinion. 😉

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