As the state circles around and around real reform for Ethics or Lobbyists or TennCare, the finger-pointing continues -- "He/She is worse than I am!" Truth is, all legislators are suffering from a lack of public confidence and an over-abundance of influence of Lobbyists. Take the following from the state Democratic Party newsletter:
"The Tennessee Republican Party shot itself in the foot last week with a clumsy attack on State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan. The story goes like this: GOP Chairman Bob Davis sent a letter to McMillan, a Clarksville Democrat, alleging a conflict of interest because the law firm where she works represents an East Tennessee utility seeking state regulatory approval. Aside from the fact that no conflict exists, Davis failed to take into account that a hostof Republican lawmakers have day jobs that actually do pose potential conflicts with their legislative duties.
-- Among them: State Senator Mark Norris, a Collierville attorney who represents hospitals before the state Health Services and Development Agency.
--State Representative Glen Casada, of Franklin, who introduced legislation to benefit his employer, a unit of drug maker Schering-Plough Corp;
-- and State Representative Joey Hensley, a Hohenwald doctor who filed a bill to put more TennCare money in the pockets of physicians despite the fact that his medical practice collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the program over the years. Norris, in a report by the Commercial Appeal, seemed perturbed by Davis'attack and acknowledged some legislators' day jobs will intersect with government from time to time. Unless the state wants to shift from a citizen legislature to a professional legislature, well have to continue to deal with these issues, Norris said."
I love that last sentece -- "Unless the state wants to shift from a citizen legislature to a professional legislature ...." Sure seems like the Professional Politicians are what Tennessee has and the concept of a "citizen legislature" is scoffed and derided. "Why, Joe, imagine how much a new member would have to learn about how business is done?"
Newsflash - the public does know about how business is done -- the so-called "Tennessee Waltz" FBI probe is one of several on-going into business-as-usual in government, linking with the FBI probe of law enforcement statewide called "Operation Tarnished Shield" and the on-going FBI probe into the former Sundquist Administration.
It DOES NOT matter which party has members under review, and sadly, I don't think the voters give one hairy rat-tail of the outcome. Voters know their voices are ignored and unwanted. The ever-decreasing voter turnout shows they understand their votes soon do not matter.
Somehow, the notion that a Campaign Contribution is an act of exercising the Rights of Free Speech has taken root and is flowering across the country. It's a critical mistake.