State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like.But who decides what constitutes transparency? Who checks whether they’re telling us all that we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.
Business executives pushing a bill in the Legislature would still have to register as lobbyists even if they’re not expressly paid to do so, under a proposed opinion from the State Campaign Finance Commission. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce had asked the commission for an exemption — a position that would allow business persons to buy meals, tickets or other gifts for public officials without disclosing them.
What, exactly, is a lobbyist? That’s the common thread in countless conversations around the Capitol these days. Full-time lobbyists are organizing a trade group so they can hang out more and project a more professional image to the public. And two other groups — smaller public-interest groups and business executives and sales representatives — say they’d rather not have to register as lobbyists, thank you very much.
Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are considering whether to bar BP from receiving government contracts, a move that would ultimately cost the company billions in revenue and could end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields. Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways. That strategy may no longer work.