Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Ethics chairman criticizes easing of lobbyist reports

March 31, 2004


— Public access to details of meals bought by lobbyists for legislators would be sharply reduced under proposals approved by the House, the state ethics commission's chairman says.

The House bill would exempt meals worth $25 or less from a rule requiring lobbyists to report the names of legislators, spouses and staffers whom they treat to food and beverages, except at large group events.

Lobbyists reported buying 6,300 individual meals or snacks worth nearly $92,000 last year, according to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. About 83 percent of those meals would have gone unreported under the House bill.

"That is not our idea of sunshine," commission Chairman Daniel Sevart said Tuesday.

Sevart's comments came during a meeting of House-Senate negotiators working on a compromise bill on ethics and campaign finance.

Sevart, who is an attorney in Wichita, also criticized a section of the House bill abolishing a requirement that lobbyists keep five years of detailed records of spending on individual legislators.

Without such records, Sevart said, the commission cannot check on lobbyists' compliance with the law.

"I see it as rendering it virtually impossible for us to do audits," he said.

The provisions that drew Sevart's criticism are included only in the House version of the bill. House members who support the changes have argued that they would reduce paperwork.

House negotiators said they do not want to reduce the information disclosed by lobbyists, only the paperwork required of them. Senators said they wanted more information, and negotiations were to continue.


Ethics and campaign finance is House Sub for SB 376.

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