Advance Indiana may churn a lot of inflammatory and conspiratorial "news" items, and Lord knows we've gone at it, but when it comes to open and honest government, it's hard to knock Gary Welsh, AI's pen-to-paper man. He'll put a finger in the eyes of his party and the eyes of its key affinity groups when called for, and he does so today.
Advance Indiana today leads with the Indianapolis Star's story about Mike Ripley, a Republican representative who represents Wells, Adams, and Allen counties. Ripley, who has served since 1996, stepped down and guess what type of job he's taking? Everybody in unison: LOBBYING!
As the Star points out (kudos as well for staying on this story), Indiana is NOT one of the thirty states that has a waiting period before a legislator or high-ranking executive official can turn lobbyist.
I believe Indiana needs a law, and in fact, I think Indiana should set the bar. Most states have a two-year waiting period. I'd say four is right. Two election cycles would more likely change the personalities enough (and the Governor and his people) that the value of these former public servants as lobbyists would decrease. And, quite frankly, any the only members of the Indiana General Assembly or in the executive branch who could be upset about such a law are people who KNOW they will be cashing in on their connections in the future. I promise you that there are members in the General Assembly right now who are hanging on because they know that in addition to their ridiculously high pensions, they have the "lobbyist retirement plan" to fall back on.
I want to help create a network of politically active folks who will speak truth to power, even to those in our own party. I know I'll tell Senator Vi Simpson (who I think fondly of, and whom I've supported financially) that I don't care about her indignation at this bill. A revolving door draws the wrong kind of people into the General Assembly. I once asked a candidate for state representative who I knew pretty well to look me in the eye and swear to God his first job out the statehouse would not be lobbying. He wouldn't. That's when I knew he had no business being in the General Assembly.
Having said this, I support a legislator pay commission to make our state equal with others. We pay our folks $11,600 a year unless their committee chairs. This is ridiculously low, which guarantees that only rich people (or those taking a short-term loss for a long-term lobbying gain) will serve. This system is broken, and we need to fix it.
WHO'S WITH ME?!?!? (Crickets chirp....tumbleweeds blow through as everybody working in this system realizes that it's easier to NOT make waves with their own connections than to do what's right).