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silverhawks
04-13-2009, 06:13 AM
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis says he'll push for Alabama ethics law overhaul if he is elected governor

Restoring trust in government will be priority


Two springs from now the state Legislature can expect to be called into special session to take up a sweeping overhaul of the ethics law by Alabama's first black governor.

Rep. Artur Davis made that prediction Thursday and told a women's group in Birmingham that if he's elected governor next year, one of his priorities will be to restore public trust in state government.

The first step toward accomplishing that goal is overhauling the state's ineffective ethics laws and rules governing how campaigns are financed, he said.

"For years people have told me they don't believe government can work for their interest. They believe government is run by the few for the few," Davis told a lunchtime gathering of about 140 at the Women's Network at the Harbert Center.

Davis said the next governor will face a number of problems, many of them related to the ongoing recession. But the task of restoring confidence in public institutions will be the most important.

"Two years ago Alabama was number four in the nation in terms of public officials under indictment," Davis said. "So many of our people have lost confidence in our government."

To help restore that confidence, Davis, a former federal prosecutor, outlined a plan that would reduce the influence of lobbyists, ban secret campaign spending, cap campaign contributions and require any public official indicted on state ethics charges or federal corruption changes to immediately vacate their office.

Davis said his plan is tougher than a similar ethics reform package of bills being pushed by Republican Gov. Bob Riley in the current legislative session. Riley's plans so far have gone nowhere with most lawmakers.

Davis, a Democrat, said his plan would go further than Riley's.

"First, ethics and campaign reform is not a Republican or Democratic issue," Davis said. "Unlike Governor Riley, I will call the Legislature into special session to deal with this issue and I will begin by asking each and every one of them to explain exactly how these reforms are not needed. I don't think they will be able to make that case. I will travel the state making the case and, in the end, if the Legislature refuses to act, it refuses to act, but the people will see their refusal and, I hope, remember it."

Davis made another prediction Thursday: that old guard politicians and their friends won't like his plan.

"This will be disliked by the political establishment in Alabama," Davis said. "But we must do this if confidence in our public institutions is to be restored."

ETHICS OVERHAUL

Artur Davis' ethics overhaul would, among other things:

* Ban all lobbying gift-giving to legislators. State law currently allows lobbyists to spend $250 a day on a legislator without having to report it. Davis' plan would also ban the practice by some lobbyists and universities of providing legislators with free football tickets.

* Ban transfers of money from one public action committee to another. No exceptions for political parties or legislative caucuses would be allowed. Cap campaign contributions from persons, PAC's, unions and political parties. State law currently allows unlimited contributions from persons, PACs, unions and parties. Davis would cap individual giving at $5,000 total per election cycle and cap contributions from PACs and unions at $10,000 total per cycle. Political parties would be limited to a one-time general election contribution of $50,000.

* Require elected officials to step down once indicted on state ethics charges or on federal corruption charges. If they are acquitted, a person could recover damages from the government if they can prove that the charges were wrongfully brought.

Original article HERE (http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/statebriefs.ssf?/base/news/1239351366240950.xml&coll=2).

Thoughts?