by Peary Perry
happy days….for a few moments there I thought that I’d have to invent
something to write about this week…Never fear though, here comes the
morning news and I have fresh meat to start off the day.
You can always count on the old government to give you something to
write about, can’t you?
As you have heard me say many times before, I was always under the
impression (I now believe I’m wrong) that the folks who got elected
were sent to their elected positions to represent us and look out
for our best interests. I now believe that the folks we send off to
do that chore are, for the most part, looking after their best interests
and then if they have the time and the inclination, they might (note
the word…might) look after what we, the voters desire and are concerned
If you’ve had kids, you should know what I am about to say is true.
When you set up the rules for your children you had to be very specific.
I mean very specific. For example, if you told them they were not
allowed to play on the roof of the house, but you failed to identify
what days they could not do so; most likely you had to go back and
specify that they could not play on the roof of the house on ANY day
of the week.
Likewise if you told them that they had to wear pants or shirts, then
you had to identify what day of the week as well as the time of the
day along with where they were required to wear pants and shirts.
Oh, yes and that both pants and shirts were required, not just one
or the other.
Now you would think adults would follow the rules a lot easier, wouldn’t
Nope, not in our good old state legislature. Let’s examine what is
five years ago the ethics committee established a rule which stated
that a political candidate or officeholder must disclose the amounts
they were holding in their campaign donation accounts. They failed
to state that the total value of such deposits as well as any investments
must be reported as well. The requirement was only for the amount
of the donations.
So, now the rules committee changed the rules to further state that
the officeholder or candidate has to report everything, interest,
stocks, bonds as well as T-bills. Anything that can increase in value
as a result of campaign donations has to be reported.
As you might expect, some legislative members are upset. They think
the rules are too broad and will require ‘additional burdens’ on the
candidates if they have to itemize what they did with the money they
have received. Their argument is that some investments such as stocks
or bonds might be physically in the hands of the legislative member
and not recorded in any actual account.
that’s tough, isn’t it? I mean they might actually have to disclose
something to us…the mere citizens of the land. Heaven forbid.
I mean let’s look at the situation here. Suppose an old boy has about
2 million in his campaign account. With his or her connections it
should be fairly easy to generate 8% a year from this amount or about
$160,000. None of which has had to be reported under the old rules.
Who would know? The rules just specified that the amount of the donation
(not the value of the money once it was invested) had to be reported.
Remember my first paragraph about being specific with your children?
I suppose the legislators just misread the intent of the campaign
contribution rule. We or the rules committee didn’t tell them that
we wanted to know about all of the campaign funds, the original amounts
as well as the value of any investments of those original amounts.
So, you might be asking why is this important? These legislators don’t
make much money for the most part. So, what’s the harm?
Well consider this….what if legislator X decides to invest his campaign
fund in stocks or bonds of companies who are lobbying for new legislation
or who might have some adverse legislation passed what would materially
affect them? How can the public know why anyone voted the way they
did unless they have an idea of what the legislator owns or invests
his or her money in? I smell conflict of interest here.
The sad thing about activities such as this is the fact that a lot
of these people seem to be only looking out for their benefit rather
than ours. And you know what; this is only about the stuff that we
What else is out there that no one has discovered?
This kind of stuff makes me sick to my stomach.
Letters From North America
June 19, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
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