FLA Legislature's No Shame on Lobbyists
The elected leadership in both parties in Florida don't even hide their incestuous relationship with lobbyists. They hold luncheons for lobbyists to hand them checks and then brag about it the the media.
"We thought this would be an easier way to get everybody together in one place," Saunders said. Asked why business lobbyists would donate to Democrats when they often are in disagreement and Democrats have little influence over legislation, Saunders said: "For one thing, we've been supportive on some of their issues. But the other thing is, committee votes are not always partisan. I think they'd like to have a voice. What I tell people is, 'Contributions don't get you a vote. They get you an open door and an open mind.' "
Lobbyists bearing gifts came and went throughout the lunch hour at the Doubletree.
"I guess you would call it access, the ability to come and educate you on the issues," said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach. "They would do it whether they gave you money or not, but I think they feel that since they have a relationship with you, that it would be easier to get to you."
I can't believe that Gibbons actually said, "I guess you would call it access." It is access. That is the whole point of inviting lobbyists to hand you money. Does anyone believe Saunders statement on dollars not equaling votes?
The Republicans weren't going to be outdone. They held a pass-the-hat-to-the-lobbyist event at the Governor's Club. Beer distributors held a fundraiser for Republican Jeff Brandes. (Saint Petersblog editor Peter Schorsch has worked as a consultant for Brandes.) As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Thrasher was publicly reprimanded for lobbying a state board for the Florida Board of Medicine on behave of the Florida Medical Association. Lobbyists know that dollars buy Thrasher's vote.
Thrasher has worked as lobbyist. Former state Sen. Ron Klein worked as a lobbyist while in the legislature. The web of lobbying is too tangled in the legislature. State laws need to forbid elected officials from working as lobbyists.