Reform is in the air -- Brian Schweitzer was on to it first
You know it's THE hot topic when the Republicans in Congress fail to select frontrunner Roy Blunt to replace Tom DeLay as Speaker of the House. Of course, all three of the Republicans candidates for the position were 'pinch-your-nose' and select the least tainted types--least being EXTREMELY relative in this particular case.
Well folks, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was on to reform long before reform became cool.
In a John M. Broder/New York Times article about states overhauling lobbying rules, Schweitzer receives this mention:
Some state officials are not waiting for scandal before proposing stricter rules on lobbying in their state capitals. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat, said that in 2005, his first year in office, nearly every bill he supported was approved. "But I didn't get to first base with lobbyist reform," he said. "I asked them to close the revolving door, put cement in it and bolt it tight. I got nowhere."
Montana does not have a "cooling off" period before a legislator or government official can become a lobbyist, as the federal government and 22 states do. Mr. Schweitzer, pointing out that the former director of the state's Natural Resources and Conservation Department now works as a coal lobbyist and the chief of staff for a former governor now lobbies for the State Chamber of Commerce, is seeking a two-year ban on lobbying one's former colleagues. He also wants lobbyists to report every expenditure on a public official, "right down to a cup of coffee."
Mr. Schweitzer said he had no hope that the legislature would pass the measures, so he was planning to put them on the November ballot.
"I'm not following any scandal," he said. "I'm attempting to head it off at the pass because I don't like the smell of it."