OCTOBER 26, 2005
The Chattanooga Times reported yesterday on a new focus to reform politics in Tennessee. After the FBI brought charges against nine current and former Tennessean politicians in their Tennessee Waltz probe, citizens of the Volunteer State have become more concerned about ethics reform. The Tennesse Waltz Probe was a sting operation set up by federal and state law enforcement agents that led to the arrest of the politicians on bribery charges in May 2005.
A task force has been set up in Tennessee to make recommendations on how best to introduce reform into the realm of politics and lobbying. Recommendations include such things as a ban on cash contributions from lobbyists and a one year “cooling-off period” for former politicians who want to become lobbyists. Right now, a Tennessee politician can become a lobbyist the day he leaves office.
Forbidding lobbyist contributions to politicians and requiring politicians to file reports similar to what the Federal Election Committee requires are also measures that have been suggested to eradicate corruption in state politics. The problem is that most politicians and lobbyists see these ideas for change as too radical. As one advocate for political reform says, “At the end of the day, I think we really need to have a public demand that this is not tolerable behavior.”
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