Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Legislators want $1,000 of free meals from lobbyists

That darned ole ethics law is just too restrictive say Representatives Gary Odom and Curry Todd. It doesn't allow lobbyists to provide enough free food so Gary Odom and Curry Todd want to allow lobbyists to give them $1,000 per year in free meals. Rep Odom's comment pretty much sums it up. He says $1,000 is "reasonable" because that is the same as the contribution THAT is honesty.

Rep. Ulysses Jones says that "No one in my district has ever thought they can buy me for an egg and biscuit."


State Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, planned to file a bill, which he called a "working draft," that would permit lobbyists and their employers to spend up to $1,000 per year per legislator.

There would be a $75 cap on each meal, according to the bill, which is being filed on behalf of the committee. The lawmaker and the lobbyist would have to turn in paperwork with the Tennessee Ethics Commission disclosing the meal.

Odom, who initially floated the idea, said it was a reasonable cap, patterned after the state's campaign finance law, under which residents are permitted to donate $1,000 per election to lawmakers.


Rep. Ulysses Jones, a Memphis Democrat, said he feels like a "space alien" when he attends conferences. While other attendees are dining together, he "sits in a room and watches TV."

He was annoyed by the notion that he could be bought for a biscuit. "That's ridiculous," Jones said at the meeting. "You're saying if I buy you a meal, I own you. That's not right. No one in my district has ever thought they can buy me for an egg and biscuit."