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Matt Singer on March 10, 2006 - 1:21pm
Progressives in Florida are taking a stand on a new ethics bill, saying that the legislation doesn't go far enough. The bill in question is a full outright gift ban, but as some Florida lawmakers, banning gifts from lobbyists may not be enough:
To demonstrate the disparity, outside the House chambers, Gelber placed a corn muffin next to a bucket of Monopoly money. "Current law . . . bans members from taking something as simple as this corn muffin," Gelber said. On cue, fellow Democrats spilled out the bucket of fake cash, symbolic of what lawmakers can still accept from lobbyists and other contributors. "If you can't take a muffin, you shouldn't be allowed to take a bucket of cash," he said.I think the muffin/cash distinction is an important rule-of-thumb when evaluating reform proposals. Luckily, we have some reform proposals that come a heckuva lot closer to meeting this oh-so-though standard. Public financing of campaigns, already adopted in six states (as well as a handful of cities), opens the political process up to people who aren't interested in spending their days fundraising. And, as former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) writes in The Boston Globe, public financing of campaigns paired spending caps as implemented in Vermont both open the system to more competitors and make it less likely that big money will corrupt the system. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether citizens have the right to demand that elections be fair and not open to the highest bidder. Let's hope that they trust states to make good decisions.