Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What About Ethics Reform For Indianapolis?

The Indianapolis Star day after day talks about the need on its editorial pages to enact comprehensive ethics reform legislation. House Speaker Pat Bauer and State Rep. Mike Murphy have co-sponsored such legislation that has now passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. A key provision of that legislation would bar state contractors and persons bidding for state contracts from making campaign contributions to the governor and candidates for that office. [UPDATE: On further check, this provision is meaningless compared to laws passed in other states. It only bars contributions during the period the legislature is in session. That hardly puts a dent in pay to play activities.] Illinois adopted a similar ban after Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pay to play debacle last year in the Land of Lincoln.

Although Greg Ballard complained during the 2007 mayoral election that Peterson was using city contractors to fund his campaign, he turned right around and did the same thing after being elected to the office. Ballard has shaken down city contractors for millions of dollars in campaign contributions since he took office in January, 2008. Ballard is literally auctioning off city hall for his own political benefit. The Indiana General Assembly must act to include a similar campaign contribution ban on Indiana mayors and other local government executives. We must put an end to pay to play politics in Indiana.

I'll take a comprehensive look at Ballard's campaign contributors later this week when his campaign files its annual campaign finance report, which is due no later than tomorrow. You will be sickened by what it reveals.


patriot paul said...

I understand and share the thrust of what you're saying. At the same time, there's something about banning political contributions from targeted groups (state contractors), that goes against the grain of political expression. Thoughts?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Patriot Paul - I'd say that 'political expression' and freedom of speech are the arguments some businesses would put forward to the Courts. But the bottom line is that these contributions turn one person, one vote into one dollar, one vote.

Gary R. Welsh said...

When you look at where we've been headed under the current system, you have to look at all avenues to curtail the influence of political contributions on the system. I think that you cannot underestimate the impact of limiting the influence of people who are doing business with the government. No free speech concern as far as I'm concerned.

Downtown Indy said...

What is needed is a shortening of the campaign cycle to 30 or maybe 60 days.

As it is, it takes millions of dollars to flood all media for a year (sometimes longer) with a candidate's propaganda. That keeps the little guy from having a fair shake.

Besides, shouldn't a candidate be able to articulate their message in that amount of time?

But to the aspect of campaign financing, I would like for the total amount a candidate can amass in campaign funds to be limited to the salary they'd earn once they complete their term in office.

Oh, I could go with a multiplier of maybe 1.5x to 2x. But it's absurd to have candidates spending $8 million for a position that pays $400k. With their up-front gross financial imbalance, why are we surprised when they foist the same insane imbalances onto our backs through their official duties?

M Theory said...

Didn't you report a while back that Ballard was asking contractors to pony up for fancy $5000 private dinners with him or am I remembering wrong?

Gary R. Welsh said...

That's what I heard, Melyssa. Ballard apparently has no shame.

Paul K. Ogden said...

D.I., shortening the campaign calendar, if that were even possible, would benefit those who have name recognition already (i.e. usually incumbents) or who could buy name recognition in a short period of time by advertising. It does not help the underfunded candidate...just the opposite.

You want to look at something that will help level the playing field, address the franking privilege and other avenues by which elected officials communicate with the public at the public's expense.