Senator Lisa Baker, R-20, pledged to renew her push for effective ethics reform as she begins her new term, and the first piece introduced is a bill that will ban cash gifts for legislators, public officials, and public employees.
“The principle is simple and direct – cash gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other public officials have no good or justifiable purpose in our process. The action of accepting such gifts and the perception of improper influence that comes with it are both very harmful to the public trust in state government,” Baker said.
“It is impossible for citizens to believe there are no expectations attached to cash gifts from lobbyists and individuals seeking to influence state government. The stain resulting from the actions of the four Philadelphia legislators accused of wrongdoing obliges us to take corrective actions,” she stated.
“The ban contained in the Senate Rules approved for this session is an encouraging step. But a law has broader coverage, more permanence, and a greater deterrent effect,” she pointed out.
Baker sponsored a cash gift ban bill last session that unanimously passed the Senate in April, but it was not taken up by the House.
“This is the sort of public-supported reform that should have been given priority for action, but was not. That was disappointing to good government advocates, but with so many incoming legislators touting the need for reform, the chances for success seem much more favorable.”
The narrow exception to the ban would apply to family members and relatives, where the intent of gift-giving is purely personal.
Andrew M. Seder