HARRISBURG – Today, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) announced that she is working with her Senate colleagues to implement new transparency and ethical standards for lobbyists and political consultants in order to limit their level of influence in state government.
Specifically, Baker is advancing legislation (SB 803) to prevent lobbyists from also being registered as political consultants. Additionally, the measure would prohibit a political consultant from lobbying a state official who was a client for the remainder of the term for which consulting services were provided.
“There is broad agreement on the need for substantial ethical reforms in state government, and a primary concern of good government advocates is the increasing blurring of the distinction between political campaigns and policy making.” Baker said. “By establishing a standard of practice on the part of public officials and those seeking to influence them, we strengthen the firewalls between campaign activities and government service, and ensure the public interest is not compromised by the conflicted activities of outside interests.”
Other bills contained within the reform package include:
- Senate Bill 801, sponsored by Senator Bob Mensch (R-24), would require lobbyists to register any clients seeking state financial assistance or grants and prohibit kick-backs and inducements for referrals or performance bonuses for a successful application for taxpayer-funded grants.
- Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28), would prohibit any state entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or political consultant to lobby any branch of government. The bill would also prohibit former lobbyists who become employees of the General Assembly from being lobbied by their previous colleagues for one year after separation from employment. This would prevent the revolving door of individuals leaving a lobbying firm to join the legislature and immediately being influenced by their former coworkers.
- Bill 804, sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-6), would require all registered lobbyists to complete mandatory annual ethics training developed by the Department of State.
Earlier this year, Senator Baker renewed her push for effective ethics reform by introducing bills to ban cash and other gifts to legislators, public officials, and public employees.
“I have long believed that a gift ban is the simplest and most immediate reform we can put in place to counteract undue special interest influence on the legislative process,” said Baker. “It is impossible to erase the suspicion that gifts provide the giver greater access and influence than the ordinary citizen possesses. This an essential step to begin restoring public confidence in our work.”
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