Paid to play

By AL DIAMON  |  July 27, 2011

But why?

Until now, Trahan has been able to lobby his colleagues on a wide range of matters. He's gotten in their faces recently to push for more oversight of government agencies, guaranteed tax money for departments that oversee fishing and hunting, to defeat a Democratic tax-reform plan, and to pass a Republican-backed set of tax cuts.

Nothing wrong with any of that. Every effective legislator does the same thing. (I just used the words "effective" and "legislator" in the same sentence. I must be getting soft.) The only thing that would change if Trahan worked for SAM is that he'd officially be a lobbyist because he'd be getting paid to do what he's been doing all along.

I understand how the public feels about lobbyists: They're scum.

But nothing in the state or federal constitutions prohibits scum from serving in public office, because if there were such a clause, there'd be more vacant seats in Augusta than at the average Tampa Bay Rays home game. As difficult as it is to believe, lobbyists have the exact same rights as all other American citizens, including the right to serve in the Legislature without being forced to pass up plum employment opportunities.

Trahan should stay in the Senate, even though he'd have to constantly exercise his discretion to avoid ethical dilemmas. It should be up to the voters in his district to decide how well he accomplishes that. To require him to do anything else means we'd be excluding somebody from elected office solely because of an undesirable profession.

If we did that, how long would it be before we threw out all the lawyers, bankers, and executive directors of the Maine Turnpike Authority?

Hmmmm . . .

Lobby me by emailing  aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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