January 16, 2012 •
Legislation would expand loophole in lobbying restrictions
Senate Bill 244 proposes adding the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses and the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association to a statutory list of lobbyist exemptions. If the bill passes, the groups will be exempt from the gift disclosures and paid travel bans imposed on lobbyists, regardless of whether lobbying occurs at their events. This is the latest attempt at carving out exceptions to the 2010 ethics reform bill which banned lobbyist-funded, out-of-state travel for legislators.
Although lobbyists cannot directly pay for a state legislator’s trip, by simply paying for membership in an exempt group like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the lobbyists gain access to legislators. Giving a group an exemption allows legislators to travel to the group’s conferences and hunting trips, at the group’s expense, without violating the lobbying rules or having to disclose the trips.
Exempt groups claim to be established for the education and support of legislators.
Photo of the Indiana State Senate Chamber by Charles Edward on Wikipedia.
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