Editorial: Colorado’s lobbyist limbo
Vail Daily Editorial Board
It’s not easy being a lobbyist these days. Just ask John McCain, whose presidential candidacy hit a major speed bump last week when the New York Times reported on his relationship with lobbyist Vicky Iseman. Whether there was an affair involved or not is almost besides the point when considering the greater point of just how close an elected official should be with someone whose job it is to influence government.
In Colorado Monday, the State Supreme Court overturned an injunction on a lobbyist-gift law passed by voters last November. Amendment 41 bans lawmakers from taking anything at all from lobbyists ” as well as anything from anyone worth more than $50. On the surface, the ban seems like a good idea, especially when one hears of lawmakers being treated to expensive vacations, gifts and other perks that can at least appear to influence their votes.
But opponents have argued Amendment 41 goes too far, and we agree. It can create potential situations where the daughter of a government employee could be prevented from accepting a scholarship, for example. In other cases, it can get just plain silly – where a gift basket at Christmastime is conflated with a lobbyist-funded Scottish golf junket.
It’s unfortunate that the Colorado Supreme Court didn’t offer some clear-cut instruction on what, exactly, the rules are behind Amendment 41. We’re all for reining in unscrupulous lobbyists ” and elected officials who would allow themselves to be swayed by such. But despite some egregious examples on the state and national levels, most lobbyists are legit and form a necessary part of the constitutionally protected right of the people to free speech and the ability to petition the government.
Colorado voters in the post-Jack Abramoff era were on the right track approving Amendment 41, but the Supreme Court let us down by not clarifying the rules behind it.
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