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Riley signs ethics bills

Gov. Bob Riley on Monday signed into law seven sweeping anti-corruption reforms recently passed in a special session of the Alabama Legislature.

Riley called the special session on December 8 to address the state’s need for strict laws against corruptive practices by public officials.

“This is a new era of accountability for our state,” Riley said. “It is a sea change in attitude about reform, transparency and openness in government.  This special session was all about giving the people of Alabama the type of government they deserve but were always denied because of politics. Now, because of these landmark reforms, state and local governments in Alabama will operate more honestly, more openly and with more accountability than ever before.

“Government will be more responsive to the needs of our citizens and less beholden to the wants of special interests.”

The new laws include measures to ban PAC-to-PAC transfers, put the first-ever limits on what lobbyists and those who hire lobbyists can spend on public officials, grant the Alabama Ethics Commission subpoena power, ban pass-through pork spending and double dipping by legislators, end taxpayer funding of political activity for special interest groups, and require lobbyists who lobby the executive branch to register and file disclosures.

Jim Sumner, executive director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, applauded the final passage and signature of the new reforms saying it signaled a monumental shift in the political culture Alabama.

“Today is a truly historic day for all who believe that government exists solely to benefit the public instead of those who serve in government and those who attempt to influence its decisions,” Sumner said. “As I said on the first night of the special session, we would have but one opportunity to do this right – and do it right we did.”