Com­mis­sion­ers should not hire lob­by­ists

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

In the story “County com­mis­sion­ers, leg­is­la­tors con­tinue re­flec­tion on leg­isla­tive ses­sion” in the April 27 edi­tion of the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent, the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ap­peared to be gloat­ing and, as usual, pat­ting them­selves on the back, for hav­ing hired a pow­er­ful An­napo­lis lob­by­ing firm to rep­re­sent them in con­nec­tion with their so-called leg­isla­tive agenda. It should be em­pha­sized that the leg­isla­tive agenda is largely de­vel­oped in re­sponse to and to ap­pease spe­cial in­ter­est groups that of­ten em­ploy their own lob­by­ists so this dou­ble deuce (smelly pun in­tended) ap­proach seems like a bit of overkill as well as an in­sult to those of us not wealthy enough to em­ploy a lob­by­ist.

In all se­ri­ous­ness, many of us or­di­nary, mid­dle in­come, tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens, who are not rep­re­sented by pow­er­ful lob­by­ists, are of the opin­ion that pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians, who seem to be swayed only if wined and dined by pow­er­ful lob­by­ists, rep­re­sent that which is ran­cid and wrong with politics at both the fed­eral and state level. The fact that many of the pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians only leave their cushy elected po­si­tions if they have a lu­cra­tive job of­fer from a lob­by­ist seems some­how to feed the grow­ing dis­trust of lob­by­ists and the seem­ingly grow­ing, largely in­ex­pli­ca­ble wealth of pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians.

To ad­dress the is­sue of us­ing our hard earned tax money to hire a lob­by­ist, one needs to be­gin with the ques­tion: Why is this nec­es­sary? Ex­cuse me, but my view of gov­ern­ment is that our elected pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians in An­napo­lis are the par­ties re­spon­si­ble for ad­vanc­ing leg­is­la­tion af­fect­ing our lo­cal­ity in the state leg­is­la­ture and our com­mis­sion­ers (Yes, our com­mis­sion­ers) are re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing the case to the pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians. It was re­ported at the time the de­ci­sion was made to re­tain the hired gun that the lob­by­ing firm was “vet­ted” through one of the pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians. If this is not a con­flict of in­ter­est, it should be. The ethics of ask­ing a pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cian if a firm whose only role is to sway leg­is­la­tors is ac­cept­able some­how es­capes all logic — par­tic­u­larly if a par­tic­u­lar lob­by­ing firm en­gages, has en­gaged or has any pos­si­bil­ity of en­gag­ing the par­tic­u­lar pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cian.

As a mid­dle in­come, tax­pay­ing cit­i­zen who is dis­tressed with the un­con­scionably high taxes of Charles County, I sug­gest that the com­mis­sion­ers re-eval­u­ate the need for wast­ing our tax dol­lars on a mat­ter where there is no ev­i­dence of any real value to this county or to the state. In my Mark Twain in­spired dis­taste of pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians, per­haps it might be more ben­e­fi­cial to kick the tax money fun­neled to the lob­by­ing ca­bal into some of the var­i­ous and sundry re­elec­tion funds and lead­er­ship funds that the pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians seem to be amass­ing. Cut out the mid­dle­men. Also, con­sider us­ing the money di­rectly to buy the votes of the Jack­wagon leg­is­la­tors. Frus­tra­tion with and dis­trust of gov­ern­ment can only con­tinue to grow if tax money is used for such good olde boy, scratch my back, fish fry politics as seems ev­i­denced by the re­ten­tion of paid lob­by­ists to ob­tain votes of pro­fes­sional ca­reer politi­cians. Gail Hop­kins, Char­lotte Hall

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