Friday, February 24, 2012

Tea Party legislators block amendment increasing government transparency

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Tea Party lawmakers blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28), which would have required legislators to be more transparent about the money they receive from lobbyists to cover costs of attending conferences and other expenses.

“Lawmakers have a responsibility to the public to be transparent,” Farley said. “My amendment would have made lawmakers more accountable to citizens.”

Farley introduced the amendment to HB 2642, a lobbying expenditure bill, which would have required legislators to make more specific disclosures on “scholarships” for conferences they receive and would require them to make financial disclosure reports available through the Secretary of State website. Additionally, the amendment would require organizations lobbying lawmakers to register as lobbyists and it would narrow the definition of who can advocate without registering as a lobbyist.

The provisions came from Farley’s HB 2665 and would require the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Goldwater Institute, two groups that exercise strong influence of Arizona’s legislature, to register as lobbyists.

The amendment failed by a vote of 18-36 along party lines.

“Transparency should not a political issue, it should be a bipartisan belief that lawmakers have a duty to be open and honest with all citizens,” Farley said. “This amendment should have been included in the bill. It failed because Tea Party legislators once again let their rigid ideology get in the way of common sense.”


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