Anyone who is an avid reader of some of Alabama’s statewide media will notice a definite lack of coverage when it comes to misdeeds of the Alabama legislature as covered by the local media. Unless it comes from the courts, it’s not likely to make the local paper. But there is an abundance of information out there about how our state is being governed and it’s not good. I don’t know why the local media seems to be carrying water for the Legislature but I have a hunch, probably you do too.
Kyle Whitmire, a columnist of the Birmingham News, has written numerous articles almost weekly for the past 4 or 5 weeks shining the light of day on the ills of campaign finance and cozy relations between legislators, lobbyist and special interest. He has exposed the loopholes in our ethics laws that permit lavish trips to places like Grove Park in Asheville, N.C. and the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala., etc.
One of the main players hosting some of these events was the Alabama Lenders Association. In addition to a gaggle of Legislators and their wives as reported, was the former chairman of the Ethics Commission, Brig. Gen. Ed Crowell and current Ethics chairman Jerry Fielding, (although Fielding has denied he attended the event when he was a senator). It is also reported that some of the folks who work in the Legislative Reference Service, the outfit that helps legislators draft bills attended. They sleep well and ate high on the hog.
We all remember the efforts of some to bring fairness into our state lending laws, that permitted exorbitant fees for short time pay day loans. This puts a cloud over Ethics and a cloud over any new laws passed after the cozy gatherings. The legislators made all this Ok when they put into the law that it was Ok as long as it was a widely attended meeting, now can you imagine it not being widely attended with all the posh accommodations, entertainment and eating high on the hog, all complements of the folks who want favors.
In a letter to the Editor, there is not room to detail all that needs to be said about all the hanky-panky that Whitmire has uncovered in the last few weeks, but every little bit exposed makes for better government,
After the recent corruption trial we learn that there is a move afoot in the legislature to further water down what little protection we now have in the ethics laws. Hopefully the Attorney General and all ethical and honest legislators will bow their back and not let this happen.