Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bribe Focus of Complaint

The 2009 legislative session kicks off early with a couple of ethics violation complaints

With more than three months still remaining until the first gavel falls for the 2009 Utah legislative session, the fur's already flying on Utah's Capitol Hill. This morning's Standard-Examiner reports on the already heated action:

SALT LAKE CITY -- Three Democrats in the state Legislature have filed the second ethics complaint in a decade, this one against Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, accusing him of offering a $50,000 bribe to a fellow lawmaker to change her vote on school vouchers.
Reps. Neil Hansen, of Ogden, and Roz McGee and Phil Riesen, both of Salt Lake City, filed the complaint.
Within the complaint is a letter from former house member Susan Lawrence, R-Salt Lake City, who writes that Hughes offered her "a large sum of money" to either change her vote or "just be absent for the vote" on vouchers.
"When I asked where the money would be coming from, (Hughes) was somewhat vague, but said enough for me to know it was from those funding and supporting school vouchers," she wrote. "I told Rep. Hughes that there was absolutely no way I would consider changing my position against, or vote for, school vouchers."
Lawrence's letter is addressed "To Whom it May Concern."
Beyond that charge of bribery based on Lawrence's letter, the complainants also accuse Hughes of abuse of power in soliciting donations from fellow lawmakers for a pro-vouchers political issue committee and using legislative analysts' time to benefit that group.
Recognising that the best defense is a good offense of course, Representative Hughes has filed counter charges against Riesen, according to the Standard-Examiner:

Hughes filed his own ethics complaint against Riesen on Wednesday, accusing Riesen of leaking documents to the news media about the ethics charge before it was filed with the ethics committee.
The Deseret News carried a story on this brouhaha yesterday, and reported another charge against Hughes which this morning's Std-Ex story fails to mention:

The Democrats' complaint also says Hughes, who if re-elected next month could be the House Rules chairman, has told lobbyists that if they continued to take part in anti-voucher activities, House Rules could kill bills they support.
Utah citizens have been clamoring for ethics reform in the Utah legislature. The standard lame excuse of the legislature has always been that such reform is not necessary, because the state legislature is composed of nothing but well behaved choir boys.

Hopefully the spectacle of this preliminary intramural dogfight will finally focus the legislature's attention on the necessity of enacting ethics reform this year.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

1 comment:

Bill C. said...

Is anyone suprized by this? These guys are crooks.
I caught some of the gubernatorial debate last night on KUED, the dem made a point that even you farthest right wing folks should consider; Any bill that comes out of a closed caucus should be vetoed.

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