Transparent government important

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gov. Bob Riley essentially told legislators and lobbyists on Thursday not to make messes, lest they get caught with dirty hands.

He pointed to a proposed bill for a rewrite of ethics laws a “significant overhaul,” the most drastic move toward transparent government since 1973.

Here are key points in the legislation:

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Lobbyists must fully disclose to the Alabama Ethics Commission any and all gifts, meals, travel, tickets to sporting events and other items of value provided to public officials, called “public servants” in the bill.

Lobbyists must fully disclose to ethics commission any financial transaction between lobbyists and public officials or their family members.

Lobbyists who lobby the executive branch for grants and contracts must register with the Ethics Commission.

Public officials must disclose to the ethics commission all jobs and consulting contracts they have with any business, nonprofit organization or other entity that receives public funds.

Ethics commission must post on the Internet all spending by lobbyists on public officials and their family members.

Alabama Ethics Commission given subpoena power.

These are bold moves, indeed, but much needed. Now, more than ever, it is important that government leaders not abuse the people’s trust.