Special interests spent thousands wining and dining lawmakers during this past legislative session...
Well-heeled interest groups, businesses and some government agencies spent nearly $195,000 wining and dining lawmakers and their staffers during this year’s legislative session, according to new financial disclosure forms.
Groups ranging from the Iowa State Bar Association and the Greater Des Moines Partnership to Union Pacific spent a total of $194,848 on receptions, dinners and other social events during this year’s session, according to reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
Some of the groups that spent the most were the Iowa Business Council, The Principal Financial Group, Iowa Gaming Association, the Iowa Wholesale Beer Dealers Association, and Hy-Vee Inc.
Now when you look at some of the big issues that were debated by lawmakers this past session you can see why these groups were so interested. These issues include: changes to collective bargaining, expanding health care to uninsured children, if casinos would be included in the smoking ban or not, and the expansion the bottle bill.
The article goes on to tell about the dramatic influence lobbyists and PAC's have on lawmakers and helping them get elected.
Disclosure reports for the year ending last June 30 showed that there were 610 groups who paid lobbyists a total of more than $8.5 million to influence lawmakers.
That financial influence was also shown in political action committee disclosures filed this month, with PACs having already given $872,509 to candidates this year.
I don't think I have heard a better reason for the need for clean elections and campaign finance reform in Iowa. Yet, political leaders refuse to allow the VOICE bill to come up for a vote. The VOICE legislation would bring voluntary clean elections to Iowa.
I'd love to sit down for dinner with Governor Culver, Sen. Gronstal, Rep. Murphy, and Rep. McCarthy and talk about the benefits of the VOICE bill, but I don't think I have enough money to afford it.