Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
February 7th, 2019 • News

February 7, 2019

  • Anybody who keeps up with the news is well aware that we must take some bold steps to restore people’s faith in government.
  • That’s why I was proud to be a part of a bipartisan coalition of legislators, from both the Senate and the House, who are sponsoring a package of bills to increase the penalties for public corruption and fraud.
  • One bill would prohibit public officials from registering as lobbyists. We already have so-called “revolving door” prohibitions against legislators resigning early to become lobbyists.
  • The bill I’m sponsoring is much broader, because it affects every elected state official, and the prohibition begins from the date they are elected, not when they take the oath of office.
  • Other legislation would prohibit lawmakers and constitutional officers from forming more than one political action committee. Another bill would prohibit political action committees from contributing money to other PACs.
  • We’re also proposing to make the penalties more severe for misusing campaign funds. Spending campaign contributions as if they were personal income would be a felony if the amount was more than $2,500.
  • The state Ethics Commission could issue stronger fines under another proposal, which would raise the maximum penalty for ethics violations from $2,000 to $3,500.
  • In related news, the Senate leadership announced their support for funding two additional employees at the Ethics Commission and raising their budget by $170,000.
  • Finally, we’ll propose legislation that would require office holders to forfeit their retirement benefits if they are convicted of a felony associated with their duties as an elected official.
  • We are not naïve. We fully understand that bad people will always look for ways to take advantage of their authority. But this package of bills will make it more difficult for them to circumvent the law, and they will make it easier for investigators to track them down.
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