Monday, January 24, 2011

Should Lobbyists Hold Elected Office?

The headline "Moderate Republican Brings Criticism On State Board of Education in Texas" I thought was going to be about one of the usual suspects talking trash about SBOE conservatives. Rather, the trash-talking is over new SBOE board member Thomas Ratliff, criticized for keeping his lobbyist business while on the State Board.

Ratliff claims:
Ratliff said he sees no problem with wearing two hats in Austin. He said when he calls members of the Legislature on lobbying matters he doesn't use his position on the board to get in the door faster.
He claims there is no problem, yet the Statesman notes that he already recused himself on one vote and has asked the state AG to 'look into' possible conflicts of interest. If there is no problem, why the need for these precautions? This is about as safe a combination as a chain smoker in an oil refinery. Something may combust.

Here's a better precaution. Understand that it's the self-pocket-lining business that give politics a bad rap and simply don't mix lobbying and elected office. Not only should lobbyists not be elected officials, they shouldn't even run for office. And we need a bar from former elected officials jumping into the lobbyist business pronto. Some of the recent resignations-to-lobbyist conversions have been unseemly at best. I would be all for a 2-year bar from when someone leaves office to becoming a lobbyist. And serving and lobbying at the same time? That's RIGHT OUT.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." - Matthew 6:24

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