Thursday, February 2, 2012

Democratic senators introduce ethics reform bills

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira and Senator Steve Gallardo have introduced legislation to limit lobbyists’ influence on legislators, set a consistent standard of proof for ethics committee investigations, prohibit public officials’ ability to use official materials to promote themselves for election purposes and require election expenditures by companies and labor groups.

SB1068 (Schapira) prohibits legislators from receiving tickets to athletic events or entertainment.

SB1459 (Schapira) eliminates special exceptions for food, beverages, travel, lodging and speaking engagements and requires legislators to file financial disclosure statements every six months.

SB1460 (Schapira) sets the standard of proof for any investigation by a legislative ethics committee to the level of “substantial evidence,” and requires the use of an independent counsel.

SB1393 (Gallardo) prohibits registered lobbyists from making, soliciting or bundling campaign contributions to legislators and the governor – in or out of session.

SB1390 (Gallardo) prohibits legislators from receiving tickets to special events.

SB1391 (Gallardo) prohibits legislators from receiving food and beverages from registered lobbyists.

SB1394 (Gallardo) prohibits public officials who are candidates for any public office in Arizona from using public expense to promote themselves in the year prior to the election.

• SB1392 (Gallardo) would require any corporation, limited liability company or labor organization to disclose any independent expenditure aimed at influencing the outcome of a candidate election.
Sen. Schapira

Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira:

“The influence of lobbyists here at the capitol has become so strong that it drowns out the voice of Arizonans. These bills will cut through the special interest noise and let legislators focus on what the hard-working people of our state need right now – good jobs, a strong economy and better schools for our kids,” said Sen. Schapira. “My ethics committee reform bill will remove the temptation for the majority party to go easy on one of their own members when they are faced with an ethics trial by setting a consistent standard of proof.”

Sen. Gallardo
Senator Steve Gallardo:

“In the wake of the recent ethics scandals we’ve seen happen here at the Legislature, like Fiesta Bowl, it’s clear that meaningful ethics reform is needed. It’s time to eliminate cash and perks like food and trips as lobbying tools, “said Sen. Gallardo. “These bills are a first good step in eliminating the amount of influence that lobbyists and special interests have with state legislators. An elected official should be responsible to their constituents first and foremost.”

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