A new rule increases by 500 percent the amount in meals and other gifts a lobbyist can give to a legislator each year. That comes to $500 per lawmaker. Here’s a little math, so check it twice because we are journalists.
There are 149 solons at the state Legislature. If all of them receive the maximum $500 from all 369 registered lobbyists, that comes to $27,490,500 spent influencing political decisions that affect every taxpaying citizen.
Spending nearly $27.5 million can create a lot of graft and corruption and influence peddling.
We’re not suggesting that’s going to happen. It’s just the worst-case scenario with lobbyists wielding more power than the average Joe or Mary Jane. Actual 2013 figures from the Ethics Commission reveal lobbyists spent $165,454 on food and gifts for their favorite solons.
New Ethics Commission chairman Lee Slater defended the new rule by insisting the old limit of $100 per lawmaker was too low and that the new maximum will apply to a broader range of lobbyists.
We’re not positive, but most voters don’t have $500 to shell out to influence politicians on a single issue. We’re just asking, but why should lawmakers receive free food and other gifts to perform the job voters hired them to do? Just thinking out loud.