Posted: 02/24/13 18:05
by Dave Mindeman
I still can't figure out how Minnesota elected officials have this puzzling misinterpretation of conflict of interest.
Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan probably still thinks that being mayor and a silica sand lobbyist is not a problem....even though the controversy finally made him rethink and resign.
After Steve Sviggum's rationale about the U of M Trustee and Senate Caucus spokesman being an OK thing....or former Rep. Steve Gottwalt and his health care lobbyist position....now Mayor Egan....you would think the logic would be obvious.
Does it have to be spelled out? Do we need specific legislation that says being an elected official and a lobbyist or political spokesperson at the same time is a full blown conflict of interest? Maybe we do. Maybe the logic of it all escapes those in power.
I have always been uncomfortable with the relationships of elected officials and lobbyists. They have to have relationships, but the revolving door of legislator to lobbyist is too easy and convenient. There is a silent quid pro quo that seems evident in such cases. When the lobbyists dangle future lucrative jobs in front of poorly paid legislators, the tempatation is much too great.
It would seem that elected officials need to sign a contract with the electorate. If they represent the people then representing corporations or special interests are not in the cards. A lobbyist cannot become a legislator and a legislator cannot become a lobbyist. Ever!
I realize that such an idea will never come to fruition....but we must at least establish a moratorium that has a significant time lag. My guess is, that to be effective, it should be at least 10 years.
It may be naive to think this way....but in an ideal world it would certainly make for better decision making.