Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ethics Reform Bill a Step in the Right Direction

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. today acknowledged the Speaker’s recently announced ethics reform bill is a step in the right direction toward restoring the public’s trust. Jones said if the GOP amendments being offered on the House floor on Thursday are adopted, the Legislature would be taking an even bigger step.

“It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of the public does not trust Beacon Hill,” said Representative Jones. “A cloud has been hovering over the State House for quite some time and I hope the combination of this bill and Republican amendments will help to restore the public’s faith and trust in its elected officials.”

Representative Jones plans to offer a number of amendments on Thursday when the House takes up the ethics bill. The amendments tackle the issues of campaigning and fundraising as well as offers stricter guidelines that could help prevent ethical improprieties.

The following is a preview of what can be expected on Thursday:

1) Prohibit convicted felons from registering as lobbyists in the Commonwealth.

2) Allow joint fundraisers to be held by a candidate along with the candidate’s special committee. However, fundraising expenses must be share pro-rata and contributions raised may not be reserved for the future use of the special committee or the candidates on whose behalf it was formed.

3) Require individuals to report bribes, corrupt gifts and monies gained from illegal activities for state income tax purposes.

4) Establishes a more timely electronic reporting schedule for contributions received late in the election cycles.

Representative Jones and his Republican colleagues hope these ideas among others will be well received as the Legislature works to clear the air on Beacon Hill.

“We are dealing with troubling economic times, and we need to be putting our best foot forward everyday as Legislators. But we can’t do that if lawmakers are not trusted by the public. These amendments and the others we will be offering are positive steps and we hope the Majority Party is willing to listen to our ideas during the House debate,” added Representative Jones.