I haven't been paying enough attention to what happens in Albany lately, but an article in today's New York Times (registration required) raises issues about lobbyist gift-giving and how legislators spend their campaign funds. A few tidbits:
One day last August, Richard Alteri, a lobbyist for the cable industry, took four people, including staff members from the State Senate, golfing at the Albany Country Club, and paid $61.25 a person, according to lobbying records. That same day, he paid for lunch at the club, spending $22.50 on each of them.
All told, the lobbyist spent $83.75 on each staff member, despite a state law that is supposed to limit gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers and staffers to $75. But apparently his gift was legal because until recently the state has interpreted the $75 limit to apply to each event - so a round of golf could be counted separately from the lunch served afterward at the same club.
...the state's famously porous campaign finance laws allow special interest groups to contribute large amounts of money to candidates, and allow the candidates to then use their campaign accounts to pay for everything from meals to car payments to trips.
The whole article is definitely worth reading. Maybe this is why legislators tolerate the 18:1 lobbyist/legislator ratio in New York?Posted by simon at January 30, 2006 5:56 PM in politics (state)