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Clark: Struggling to stay between lines with football

Elected officials, as all of us learn by the time we can vote, are nothing more than common burglars with glossier footwear.

So imagine how stunned I was to read that an attorney for Washington’s Legislative Ethics Committee was attempting to spell out rules for what freebies a lawmaker can or can’t accept during a college football season.

After spitting a mouthful of hot coffee out my nose, I managed to exclaim …

“WHAT!?! The Legislature has an ethics committee?”

Who knew?

That’s like hearing that Miley Cyrus is becoming a nun.

Or that the Assad regime has a department of human rights.

Or the Spokane City Council having a pulse.

To be perfectly technical, however, the actual title for this little-known governmental cabal is the Legislative Committee for Ethics/Schmethics.

It was formed after a poll showed that most Washington voters object to elected officials scarfing up gifts, bribes or golf junkets to the Bahamas because they never share.

So the committee was formed and a number of rules were made so that legislators can appear moral and upstanding while they are scarfing up all those gifts, bribes and Bahamian golf junkets.

But as the attorney pointed out in our news story, pretending to be an Ethical Lawmaker gets even trickier during the rah-rah excitement of a college football season.

So consider some of the state’s Ethics/Schmethics rules for proper legislative gridiron behavior:

NO – The Ethical Lawmaker should refrain from drinking himself into a drooling coma while being entertained in a university president’s private stadium box during a big football game.

YES – After the game, however, the Ethical Lawmaker may hit the Fraternity Row keggers where he is allowed to strip naked and tumble off a frat house balcony with all the other drunks.

NO – The Ethical Lawmaker should never accept any free game balls, autographed jerseys or other goodies for his spouse or favorite mistress.

YES – The Ethical Lawmaker may take home a doggie bag filled with up to 25 king crab legs plus five bottles of fancy imported wine from the university president’s private stadium box buffet.

NO – The Ethical Lawmaker may not accept any free tickets to sit in the stadium and watch the game with a donor, university booster or pharmaceutical lobbyist.

YES – The Ethical Lawmaker may send an intern to the stadium parking lot during halftime to receive stereo equipment, Rolex watches or bags containing undisclosed amounts of cash from a donor, university booster or pharmaceutical lobbyist.

NO – Above all else, the Ethical Lawmaker should never bet on a college football game.

YES – Betting on the WSU Cougars to win is not gambling. This is considered as the Ethical Lawmaker making an unreported donation to his bookie of choice.

NO – The Ethical Lawmaker must appear impartial during a college football game, rooting equally for each team with the greasy feigned sincerity that got him elected.

YES – Catch-22 of Washington’s Legislative Committee for Ethics/Schmethics allows for an Ethical Lawmaker to break any or all rules at any time as long as there is an appropriate kickback to members of the Legislative Committee for Ethics/Schmethics.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 ordougc@spokesman.com.


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