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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Crocodile Tears Over "Failures" of Ethics Advocates


As background to this post, see Joe Monahan's latest piece about ethics and campaign reform, where he announces a silly contest. Next, check out what Marjorie at m-pyre has to say about it.

The cowardly Alligators-Afraid-To-Reveal-Their-Names are crying crocodile tears again over the alleged mismanagement of ethics and campaign finance reform by -- get this -- the reformers themselves. The reptilian view is that reform efforts have hit a brick wall because those pushing for change haven't been clear and focused about what they want. This alleged lack of clarity has confused the public so they don't know what to get behind. And it's just plain snookered the poor legislators who have been trying in vain to decipher the priorities of the reformers. Shame on the nonprofit public advocacy organizations that have been using ineffectual tactics and asking for too much at once -- according to the unnamed sources at Monahan.

Let's Have a Contest!
The solution -- who'd a thunk it -- is lurking out there in the mind of some college student in the form of a hip new plan to achieve campaign donation limits. All Joe and his Alligators have to do is bring the ideal plan to the surface by dangling a prize for the winning idea, open their jaws and snap it up.

Too bad Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, AARP and many other organizations that have long been working for change didn't think of that. Why talk to legislators, organize citizen lobbying efforts, urge constituents to contact their reps and vigorously promote the findings of two years of highly respected and publicized work by the Governor's Ethics Task Force -- when they could have just offered up $500 in prize money to entice a college student to come up with a winning advocacy plan!


I think we should try this masterful approach with other legislative efforts that are wildly popular with voters but meet stubborn resistance from the Lobbied Ones. It's not that the Lobbied Ones are bought off by vested special interests or dominated by overly developed greed glands. It's that they're standing by waiting for a clever appeal -- a magic advocacy plan -- to inspire them to do their duty to the people they represent. All this time, powerful legislators have been pining to pass ethics reform legislation -- they've just been waiting to be approached with sufficient pizzazz.

Shaming the Status Quo
PigWell, there is one problem with the Alligators' blame-the-public-advocate campaign. It has absolutely no credibility in the real world. We can clearly see the forces working the puppet strings at the New Mexico Legislature. We've also noticed how happy the dancing puppets have become with things the way they are. We've seen the light because we've been paying more attention than ever before -- and the light is helping us to follow the money.

The public knows why ethics reforms have had trouble passing. Unquestionably, it's because the foxes (and alligators) guarding the henhouse don't want to change the status quo. They LOVE getting large donations from those with business before the Legislature. They LOVE to use that money to keep competitors from running against them so they can keep on voting against the will of the people. They LOVE having no limits on "campaign contributions" so they can string out an election win into decades of incumbency without merit. They LOVE operating in a state that lacks an ethics commission with the clout needed to root out and punish corruption. They've come to truly LOVE all the cash cows.

Gator2Nothing will make certain powerhouses in the Legislature -- and especially in the Senate -- change their minds on ethics reform unless they are absolutely SHAMED into it. They need to be called to account again and again for their refusal to clean up the present system. What we have now is essentially a Legislature where insider networks -- dependent on whats amounts to widespread graft -- operate with impunity to thwart the will of the people. It's a system designed to preserve the perks of incumbency and eliminate any risk of serious challengers emerging with the means to run against anti-reform legislators. The special interests love it. The patronage networks love it. Ordinary people suffer.

Obviously, Monahan and his nameless Alligators have concocted their silly contest to keep the pressure and attention off themselves and put it on those who've been working tirelessly for reform in the face of legislative arrogance. Unable to argue their case with convincing logic, they resort to mockery and farce.

This prime-the-pump system they're defending has worked like a charm for years -- but the people are now wising up and getting active. We've learned too much about how the game works to allow us to sit helpless any longer. We've witnessed the damage first hand when monied special interests call the shots. The destruction is displayed all around us. The crooked games must end.

What Can We Do?
Some of us are lucky enough to have ethical challengers to the status quo running in Dem primaries or the general election against business-as-usual legislators. Even if we don't live in the districts of the challengers, we can lend our time, make small campaign donations and spread the word.

If, like most voters in New Mexico, we live in State House and Senate districts with uncontested races, we can keep contacting our legislators day after day, week after week, month after month about reform. We can make it clear that anyone who keeps fighting ethics and campaign finance reform will be outed repeatedly for their shameful refusals to clean up the cesspool. And we can generously support advocacy organizations like Common Cause that lobby in a non-partisan way on behalf of the citizenry.

As with many issues, only strong public pressure is likely to result in success. We do know what to do. We just have to keep on doing it until we win some victories for the people.

Also see my previous post about the alligator swamp and complaints about ethics reform advocates.

February 27, 2008 at 12:20 PM in Corporatism, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform | Permalink


I can't believe the stupid "contest" Monahan is running. He must think that's very funny. He's that kind of guy. Go have another free meal with a lobbyist Joe and leave the advice about important legislation to others who really care.

Posted by: Old Dem | Feb 28, 2008 12:26:42 AM

We have lobbyists, big donors and key legislators all fighting to stop ethics and campaign reform, and now using Monahan's blog to blame those fighting for change for the legislators' refusal to do what's right. High time someone called them all on it publicly.

Posted by: N.NM. | Feb 28, 2008 12:07:59 PM

No mystery why the ethics stuff isn't passing. People who benefit from no rules don't want to lose their gravy. Does anyone believe it's because Common Cause and others aren't working at it the right way?

Posted by: JJ | Feb 28, 2008 1:45:32 PM

Certain people in the state senate stopped almost everything of value this session. We have a handful of democratic senators voting with right wingers to do it. This is still a rather backwards and uneducated state.

Posted by: | Feb 28, 2008 2:45:31 PM

Unfortunately Kossian is right. We need some kind of independent mass education campaign to reach people who generally tend to ignore politics and activism. How does that happen? For instance, and from a personal perspective as a HS teacher, if the public knew half of the financial waste and educational inefficienies that NCLB caused, there wouldn't be any question that there would be public demand - not outcry, mind you - absolute demand, that NCLB be completely discarded. We obviously can't rely on the current state of government to essentially turn on itself and clean house. The reason lesiglative idiocy exists is because many people in government, and their campaign donors, are doing very well by it.

Posted by: | Feb 28, 2008 3:47:57 PM

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