A few press releases went out Monday July 17th dealing with State Legislature ethics issues.
One from the NC Coalition for Lobbying Reform calling for reforms to actually be enacted before the session winds down was signed by:
Former Governor Jim Hunt
Former Governor Jim Holshauser
UNC System President Emeritus William Friday
Former U.S. Congressman Bill Cobey
Former Speaker of the House Dan Blue
Former State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr
Raleigh businessman Jim Goodmon
Another from Joe Sinsheimer shows how Rep. Jim Harrell III, a Jim Black protege, has converted more than $17,000 from his campaign account to personal use in the last six months. Harrell gained recent notoriety for accepting Canes tickets from lobbyists after signing a no-gift registry.
Chris Fitzsimon says at NCPolicyWatch that No just any reform will do.
Monday brought more evidence of why they are needed. Democracy North Carolina released a report showing that lobbyists contributed $450,000 to legislative candidates in the 2004 election cycle. The top three lobbyist contributors gave a total of more $85,000 between them.
That’s a lot of access and that’s only part of the story. Democracy North Carolina Research Director Bob Hall points out that the public gets very little information about how much lobbyists raise, since most of the lobbyists spending for fundraising is not reported.
Hall found only 11 cases in 2003-2004 in which legislative candidates reported the food, liquor, and other in-kind donations made by lobbyists in connection with hosting fundraisers. Most political observers in Raleigh will tell you that there are more than 11 fundraisers by lobbyists in a month during an election year, many at the lobbyists’ homes.