I like Day's legislation much better than Delph's, although even Delph's would be a welcome improvement. If legislators had to report more of what they receive from lobbyists, I suspect some of them would turn down a lot of meals and free Colts tickets they currently enjoy. As a former lobbyist, I observed a number of legislators who were entertained by the same lobbyists night after night at Indianapolis' most expensive restaurants and never seemed to miss a Colts or Pacers ballgame. Oddly, many of those legislators never reported gifts of $100 or more. I recall one legislator, in particular, getting upset with me when I informed him entertainment provided to him and his family members by my law firm at a Colts game exceeded the $100 limit and would have to be reported. I think many lobbyists have a wink-and-a-nod understanding with legislators that they will always arrive at a figure below $100 no matter how lavish the entertainment is.
Speaking of ethics, I haven't seen or heard any news of ethics reform from Mayor Ballard and the new Republican council. During the campaign, Ballard pushed an ethics reform plan. "Taxpayers are being asked to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in government spending ranging from huge construction projects to outside personal contracts. But there are virtually no rules governing the conduct of business or local government in such dealings," Ballard said during the campaign. He specifically proposed the following changes:
- Require persons who lobby city government to register with the city and report any lobbying expenses they make, including any entertainment or item of value they provide to elected officials and public employees.
- Bar lobbyists or other persons with a financial interest from serving on any commission or board that directly affects or deals with their lobbying or financial interests.
- Establishing a code of conduct for city employees which bars them from soliciting contributions from individuals and firms which do business with the city.
- Require statement of economic interests filed by public officials to be made publicly available online.
- Require campaign finance reports be made publicly available online.
I realize folks like Bob Grand don't want to see any of these changes made now that the Republicans are in charge, but we voted for change and expect it to happen. An ethics reform plan should have been introduced at the first meeting of the new council, along with the Mayor's plan to shift control of IMPD to the Mayor's office away from the Sheriff's office. A look at the agenda of proposed resolutions for the council's first meeting tonight doesn't turn up anything about ethics reform, other than City-County Councilor Angela Manfield's proposal to restrict the council's general counsel from representing a councilor on any private matters. I suggested some ethics reform ideas as well, which you can see here.