Friday, June 5, 2009

Policing Lobbyist influence on Environmental Bills in Washington State.

Something knocked me out silly today. It is the fact that many lobbying groups in Olympia are going scot free with no active scrutiny of their disclosure reports. As the debate on the clean energy bill raves in the other Washington, our experience in the loss of key active votes for Washington State Environmental and Clean Energy Bills makes me want to cry foul. The failures of some Environmental and Clean Energy bills in the recent session of Washington legislature make me wonder if the influence of money had not done damage to some of those bills. I am tempted to believe that some of the key votes that could have cradled the clean energy and environmental initiatives into laws, failed because the lobbyist groups did whatever they are known to do: Influence, Influence, and Influence.

We cannot stop lobbyist groups from continuing in a business they know best, but we can sure make them accountable about the way they conduct their business and filed their disclosure reports. In a recent review by the General Administration Office, auditors found that while some lobbyist were able to provide written documentation for an estimated 99% of their reports, a little over 14% of reports on income and expenses were full of contradictions. In few words, their income and expense submission cannot meet the necessary scrutiny to consider their filings as honest. This brings me to the question: If a man cannot be honest enough to keep his finances in order, how do we expect him to do the same when it comes to lobbying legislators on issues of concern to the public and to which the lobbyist has received payments to ensure that fairness and objectivity are least considered in the deliberations of the bills on the floor of both houses. Look to your favorite bill; and if you had it passed, praise your stars; for some of us who are mere mortals and who have made the clean energy and environmental initiatives our corner stone in Washington Politics, it sure hurts to continue to leek our wounds from losses in the last legislative session.

I understand that the United State Attorney General’s office for the District of Columbia is putting in place a system to better track, analyze and report on its enforcement of lobbyist filings on disclosure reports. While this process is going on in the other Washington, I hope the office of the Attorney General in Washington State is not looking away from the probable atrocities going on with lobbyist groups in Olympia. This is not an accusation; it is just a comment about the potential for pitfalls in the legislative process, when we all are keeping busy with other challenges of a tail spinning economy. And just as Mr. Cooper of CNN says it on his three hundred and sixty degrees program: Just keeping them all honest!
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