September 22, 2006

Dueling Gubernatorial Anti-Corruption Platforms

Carroll Andrew Morse

On Wednesday, Governor Donald Carcieri unveiled a four point anti-corruption plan for Rhode Island. The Governor notes that “all four of these reforms can be enacted by the Ethics Commission, without the approval of the General Assembly”…

  • Revise financial disclosure to require legislators to disclose specific sources of income; eliminating the loophole created for General Assembly in the financial disclosure law approved last session. For instance, lawyers, consultants and insurance brokers would be required to report their clients.
  • Require legislators to disclose any interest or connection to programs and entities funded by the General Assembly.
  • Revise Ethics Code definition of conflicts to address non-financial conflicts. Presently, “conflicts” are limited to ones involving “direct monetary” gain. This provision would broaden the scope of a conflict of interest to capture indirect benefits.
  • Prohibit legislators from voting on any measure that affects a business or industry from which the legislator (or a member of his or her immediate family) derives more than minimal income.
His Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty, has a four point anti-corruption plan of his own…
  • Term limits in the General Assembly (8 consecutive years).
  • Disclosure of every meeting between a lobbyist and elected official: Rhode Islanders will have public access to see who lobbyists are meeting with, what bills they are lobbying for and to who’s campaigns they are contributing. All information will be kept together by the Secretary of State through an online form. Lobbyists will fill out the form on a weekly basis. It will include who the meeting was held with, what the meeting was regarding, and what type of contact was made.
  • Stronger revolving door laws: Public officials will not be allowed to profit from any business or entity that they have regulated, funded or controlled for at least two years. General Officers and members of the General Assembly will not be able to become lobbyists for at least three years after they leave office.
  • Increased financial disclosure: Public Officials will be required to disclosure of all sources and amounts of income as well as the value of all of assets.
Much of Lieutenant Governor Fogarty’s plan would require legislation to be enacted.

Which plan do you prefer?

I’ll make two quick points here...
1. Lieutenant Governor Fogarty’s response to Governor Carcieri’s announcement of his program, at least as reported by Elizabeth Gudrais in the Projo, was classic Charles Fogarty: He didn’t say whether he favored or opposed any of the specific proposals, he just criticized the Governor for not offering a plan sooner.
2. I’m not opposed to term-limits in the abstract (if they’re good enough for the President and for state general officers, then they’re good enough for state legislators), but how exactly does Lieutenant Governor Fogarty plan to get them through the legislature?

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This is an excellent analysis of the two platforms.

Respectfully, we cannot get to who has the better platform because we cannot get past a question that pops in our mind first - which candidate has the credibility and political spine to carry out their platform?

By the way, if Charlie doesn't like revolving doors, why didn't he do something - object, say "hey, guys", anything - about the revolving door his fellow Dem legislators failed to keep out of the casino bill?

Posted by: SusanD at September 23, 2006 10:31 PM