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That’s a lot of money

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A new rule increases by 500 percent the amount in meals and other gifts a lobbyist can give to a legislator each year. That comes to $500 per lawmaker. Here’s a little math, so check it twice because we are journalists.

There are 149 solons at the state Legislature. If all of them receive the maximum $500 from all 369 registered lobbyists, that comes to $27,490,500 spent influencing political decisions that affect every taxpaying citizen.

Spending nearly $27.5 million can create a lot of graft and corruption and influence peddling.

We’re
not suggesting that’s going to happen. It’s just the worst-case
scenario with lobbyists wielding more power than the average Joe or Mary
Jane. Actual 2013 figures from the Ethics Commission reveal lobbyists
spent $165,454 on food and gifts for their favorite solons.

New
Ethics Commission chairman Lee Slater defended the new rule by
insisting the old limit of $100 per lawmaker was too low and that the
new maximum will apply to a broader range of lobbyists.

We’re not positive, but most voters don’t have $500 to shell out to influence
politicians on a single issue. We’re just asking, but why should
lawmakers receive free food and other gifts to perform the job voters
hired them to do? Just thinking out loud.

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