Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 of '10: Scandaliciousness (& The Solution)

Scandal. We've heard plenty about it this year. How many politicians were caught with their hands in the cookie jar when they weren't supposed to be anywhere near it? How many accusations, true, false, and sometimes downright bizarre, have we heard this year? It's been pure insanity...

But amidst all the usual complaints of "corruption", how often do we hear about actual solutions? Any takers?

Back in August, I wrote this. Let's take another look, and perhaps offer this challenge to anyone claiming to "fight corruption" in 2011. Next time one complains about the problem, one also needs to address real solutions like the one I highlight below.


Oh goody, Ralston is back... And he hits hard on the new "scandal" everyone in Carson City is talking about.

I have been ruminating on what the proper reaction is to Steven Horsford’s “Money for Something and Your Access Ain’t Free” fundraising pitch. Or what the proper reaction to the reaction might be. [...]

What Horsford did was crass, heavy-handed and arrogant. But it takes a spectacular naiveté or a willful ignorance — and there is much more of the latter than the former in much of the reaction — not to realize this is just par for a course where membership is reserved only for a closed circle and where the entry fee for influence is often too rich for almost anyone without a Las Vegas Boulevard South address.

Of course, Ralston is talking about State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D) sending out a ridiculous letter recently promising special meals with him for big contributions. He even promised meals and extra "quality time" with Committee Chairs, apparently without even asking them if they wanted to do this!

It was pathetic. It was lame. It was dirty... And oh boy, it was clumsy!

So what exactly were the Republicans criticizing?

I smiled when I read of state Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio tut-tutting about Horsford’s solicitation, suggesting his counterpart had been intimidating lobbyists not to contribute to Republicans during the campaign season. This is laugh-out-loud funny, folks.

Raggio is the anti-Horsford, but not in the way he implied. When he was majority leader, Raggio was anything but blunt. A master of finesse, he knew how to inspire fear with a carefully chosen word or two, or perhaps by using someone else to send a message.

Don’t misunderstand: I don’t suggest Raggio ever did anything unethical. But when a consummate insider, a man who served on gaming and managed care boards while being the most powerful legislator in the state for decades, expresses disdain for Horsford’s blunt instrument, I figured he must be muttering, “That young man needs to learn a little subtlety.”

Even better, state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei’s sense of outrage was comically outrageous. “We never operated that way when we were in the majority,” Amodei told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Probably no laws were broken, but it sends a bad sign about the whole process. You need to raise money, but you don’t do that.”

This from the man who, while a state senator, auditioned for a job as the mining association’s top lobbyist and formed a political action committee with business interests he regulated. A sense of irony is always helpful, Mr. Chairman.

So Raggio and Amodei bash Horsford over his clumsy letter and want us to forget everything they did when in the majority? Seriously? And they want us to ignore their newest scandal involving their "Star Senator" Barbara Cegavske?

And if anyone is truly serious in uprooting Carson City corruption, why not discuss possible solutions? Solutions like clean money campaigning?

It's already being implemented in several states, and the results so far have been clear. If we really want to solve this problem, let's get to the root of it.

So what's the real root of this problem? It's MONEY, as in the corporate money that buys access in Carson City. Take the big corporate money out, and none of this has to happen any more. For many decades now, it's been standard operating practice that the "big bid'nis'eez" with the best connected lobbyists, best parties, and biggest campaign contributions get the most access in state government. If we really want to do something about this problem, let's get to the source of it by ridding our election system of all this corporate corruption.

So when will we ever get a serious discussion on clean money campaigns and serious election reform? When will we demand that our elected officials listen to us instead of the big corporate powers that be?

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