Groups that throw receptions for Iowa legislators are supposed to file a disclosure report within five business days of the event, but the Iowa Pharmacy Association filed paperwork for its February 10 reception only this week. Why now? Journalists have been asking about the event that preceded State Representative Kerry Burt’s drunk driving arrest around 2 am on February 11. Burt told an Ankeny police officer that he’d been drinking with the governor that evening.
I agree with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s disclosure violation once again demonstrates the need for campaign finance reform. I’ve posted a press release from Iowa CCI after the jump. Excerpt:
Several years ago, state lawmakers voted to strip oversight powers from the nonpartisan State Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and task the House and Senate Ethics Committees with oversight responsibilities. Since then, the number of reported filings have gone down, as has the amount of money spent at lobbying events.
“What other profession in the state is allowed to regulate themselves,” asks Ed Rethman, Iowa CCI member from West Des Moines. “Are doctors allowed to license themselves?”
The Des Moines Register reported in April that many interest groups are providing free food and drink to legislators without properly disclosing how much they spend on these events. Usually, the public never finds out about these events, because no one gets arrested afterwards.
Wining and dining legislators is only one of many ways to buy influence at the Iowa statehouse. Many interest groups hire expensive lobbyists. Some pay legislators’ expenses for out of state trips. Then there’s good old-fashioned contributions to political parties and campaign funds, which are unlimited in Iowa. These methods bury a lot of good ideas and get some bad ideas signed into law.
Meanwhile, what passes for campaign finance reform in the Iowa legislature is a joke.
Any suggestions for making progress on this issue are welcome in this thread.Continue Reading...