Riley calls session on ethics

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday called for a special session on ethics reform, with proposals that would include limit lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and eliminate transfers between political action committees.

“Thanks to last month’s elections, we have an historic opportunity to not only reform this corrupt political culture but end it. The opportunity to enact real reforms has never been better and the need has never been greater,” Riley said in a statement, referencing the historic takeover of the Alabama Legislature by Republicans.

Riley’s reform proposals include:

• full disclosure of spending by lobbyists on all public officials and public employees;

• an end to unlimited gift-giving by lobbyists and others to public officials and public employees;

• subpoena power for the Alabama Ethics Commission;

• a ban on “pass-through pork” spending;

• a ban on lawmakers serving in other government positions.

Riley said the need for a special session is critical because the momentum for tough reforms may not last.

“Delay does nothing but allow the special interests to continue with business as usual,” Riley said. “If we wait until the regular session begins in March to even begin discussing these reforms, we would have accomplished nothing but give the special interests a three-month head start on concocting ways to kill reforms — and, believe me, they’ve already started. Delay gives them three more months to hide campaign contributions through PAC-to-PAC transfers. It gives them three more months to deploy their armies of lobbyists to try to influence legislators over drinks, dinner and rounds of golf.”

Gov.-elect Robert Bentley said he supports the special session.

“Once we get this behind us, we can all devote our full attention to creating jobs and putting the people of Alabama back to work,” Bentley said. “I look forward to working with the Legislature to help bring about real ethics reform for our state.”

Alabama Democrats said they support ethics reform, but believe Bentley, not Riley, should call the special session.