Thursday, February 16, 2017

Good but flawed editorial on lobbying

The St. Augustine Record's February 17, 2017 otherwise eloquent editorial on lobbying conflates House Speaker Richard Corcoran with Senate President Joseph Negron.
Not enough focus on editing, too much ping pong, eh, Morris Publishing President DEREK MAY?
Update:  The fault probably lies at the copy desk, now moved to Jacksonville, 40 miles north.
The print edition got it right.
The web edition got it wrong.
Both bold "Negrons" appear in print as "Corcoran.'

Posted February 17, 2017 12:02 am
EDITORIAL: New ethics push smoke and mirrors

Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is front-page news these days because of the huge and increasingly vindictive power play between he and Gov. Rick Scott over Scott’s funding proposals for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Scott wants around $150 million for the dual initiatives, Corcoran want exactly zero.

We’ll see how that plays out. Swept slightly aside under the fight with the governor is Negron’s (sic) biggest push in the spring session, that of putting transparency in government and putting the screws to influence peddling in Tallahassee.

His proposals include:

n Banning financial relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists or the interests they work for.

n a blackout of texts and emails between lawmakers and lobbyists texting and emailing during committee meetings or when the House is in session.

n New transparency rules for lobbyists who must disclose bills and appropriations they’re seeking to sway.

n A prohibition on lawmakers traveling on private planes owned by lobbyists.

n And a requirement that lawmakers wait six years after leaving the House before they can register as lobbyists.

Our first thought at seeing the haughty agenda was “why aren’t all those rules already in place?”

It’s like a football coach laying down a new set of hard rules for his team, including, no Tasers, brass knuckles, or crotch-stomping in the pileups.

One Central Florida newspaper gushed recently that Negron’s “reforms are good. They are necessary. They are long overdue.”

They are also BS.

What really seems long overdue is Negron’s (sic) aversion to legislative incest.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Corcoran serves (sic) at Marco Rubio’s chief of staff when Rubio was Speaker. In 2010 he was elected to the House, as an attorney with his own firm, making $95,000 a year.

Rubio, too, was an attorney who made $96,000 a year in 2004, He was chosen as Speaker for the 2007-2008 session. Soon after he took a job making $300,000 a year at Broad & Cassels law firm, which had — and has — lobbying interests.

Corcoran, in line for the Speakership in 2015, was also hired by Broad & Cassels, for a $175,000 paycheck.

Senate President Joe Negron just quit his job because of potential conflict of interest. But he didn’t mind working for the lobbying law firm of Gunster Law firm until this year, with a salary of $225,000.

Better late than never?

Incredibly, there’s no law against this. .

What is a crime is that is isn’t illegal. A legislator can’t go to dinner with a lobbyist on his dime, but he can work for one for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The new ethics push is smoke and mirrors. It’s treating a cancer like a cough.

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