May 21, 2011 in Letters, Opinion

Lobbyist costs add up

 

A May 6 Seattle Times article by Spokane Valley 4th District Rep. Matt Shea and Freedom Foundation’s economic policy director Amber Gunn deserves our undivided attention regarding House Bill 2112.

Constitutionally protected lobbying by private individuals or corporations allows citizens to have a voice in government; but Washington state lobbying is being done “government to government,” at taxpayers’ expense. Last year, Washington state government agencies spent millions (paid for by us taxpayers) lobbying state officials, and millions more lobbying the federal government, often to increase the size, scope and cost of these agencies or to prevent budget cuts – an inherent conflict of interest.

Worse, according to the Public Disclosure Commission, various state agencies, local governments and municipalities failed to disclose taxpayer-funded lobbying as required by law – to the tune of $4.6 million. Penalties paid out of the agency’s budget means taxpayers not only pay for the lobbying, but for the penalties as well.

HB 2112 would hold public servants accountable for lobbying; require stiffer, personal, non-disclosure penalties; restrict lobbying to agency directors or deputy directors; and curtail state agency lobbying, while ensuring lawmakers would still hear from them when necessary.

Call/write your legislators to pass HB 2112.

Marilyn J. Montgomery

Spokane

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