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The Democrats in Raleigh have been embroiled in a series of scandals over the last six months that the newspapers have dubbed ‘pay to play’ – and as a result we have a series of investigations underway by everybody from the U. S. Attorney to the State Board of Elections.

House Speaker Jim Black has been the focus of most of the press reports about these scandals but right now just about every politician seems to be talking about the need to clean up politics. But the truth is what they call cleaning up is just putting a fresh coat of paint over the same old fence.

They’re using words like “openness,” “access” and “transparency” in describing what they call lobbying reform – but that’s political double-talk for let’s do as little as possible and declare we fixed the problem.

The only way to end these scandals is to make it illegal for a politician to ask a lobbyist (or anyone else) who wants a government grant, job, subsidy, contract, etc., for money – for political donations. In other words, pass a law that says if a lobbyist (or a lobbyist’s client) wants something from government like a contract or a special tax break for their company they can’t give contributions to the politicians who get to make that decision. That eliminates even the appearance of a quid pro quo. And puts a hole in ‘pay to play.’

But, by and large, ‘pay for play’ was created, or at least practiced most, by Democratic politicians – because, after all, they’re the ones who control the legislature and the Governor’s office. And only one Democrat leader has endorsed banning lobbyists’ donations. Guess who: Speaker Jim Black.

Now, maybe, this is a case of the return of the prodigal son but whatever his reason Speaker Black has endorsed a real reform. The question is what are Marc Basnight – and Governor Mike Easley – going to do?

Because real reform is going no where unless Senator Basnight endorses it in the Senate. So the question now is will Senator Basnight and Governor Easley join Speaker Black in endorsing a real reform – that will help stop ‘pay to play’ – or are they going to pass cosmetic changes that will let them go on raising money from lobbyists?


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One comment on “Scandals – ‘Pay to Play’

  1. cwrenn says:

    Only Democrats involved? That is untrue. There are two people involved in the scandal Black (D) and Decker (R). That is about as bipartisan as it can get. Not to mention the fact that many Democrats (although too few of the elected officials) have called for Jim Black to resign at least his speaker post.

    Comment by TarGator — February 27, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

    You do realize that Decker switched parties don’t you? He ended up re-switching back to the GOP but lost his primary race following his flip. To suggest that this is bipartisan corruption is dishonesty at it’s most blatant. Combined with the fact not one single elected Democrat has called for Black to resign at this point I have to ask if your post has any truthful commentary in it.

    Comment by johnb — February 27, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

    You do realize that in 1998 – one Speaker Harold Brubaker (R) was embroiled in SBI, FBI and State Board of Elections investigations into his fundraising tactics – and the hog farmers.

    Interesting how quick we forget about the Republican House Leadership.

    Comment by Abe — February 28, 2006 @ 6:02 pm

    video poker hearings next week will likely lead to potential Republican Speaker Leo Daughtry’s door as well as Speaker Black.

    Comment by WhalerCane — February 28, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

    Abe, refresh my memory. How did those investigations turn out?

    Comment by Jim Stegall — February 28, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

    No convictions. But that does not mean Brubaker didn’t make questionable decisions in how he ran his office, passed legislation, and/or raised campaign contributions.

    Republicans are screaming for reforms – yet when they were in leadership under Brubaker – Republicans did nothing to reform lobbying, campaign finance, ethics. In fact, the Republican leadership buried a reform bill sponsored by Rep. Julia Howard (R).

    And now Brubaker thinks he should be Speaker again.

    As Mr Wrenn has stated before – the problem goes far beyond one person. It’s throughout politics, Dems and Repubs….in NC and all over the US.

    Comment by Abe — March 1, 2006 @ 6:36 am

    Thanks. I wasn’t very attuned to NC politics in those years, having recently returned from military service and being preoccupied with starting a new career. I appreciate the info.

    Comment by Jim Stegall — March 1, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

    So no conviction doesn’t exonerate a Republican, it’s gotta be pleasant to go through life when one is a clone of Forrest Gump.

    The fact that Black is a crook does not incriminate anyone but Black and his co-conspirators.

    Comment by johnb — March 6, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

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