Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Betty Anderson lobbies on judicial selection, but not really

Betty Anderson is the wife of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. She lobbies for more than 20 organizations and probably makes (this is just my best guess) well over $100,000.

But we wouldn't know she was lobbying on this issue unless the Tennessean told us. Thank you Theo Emery.


Anderson, incoming chairwoman of the bar association's legislative committee, said she had not broken any ethics laws because she was acting as a volunteer lobbyist, and lobbied on the issue less than the 10 days that would require her to register as bar association lobbyist.

She said that while she discussed judicial selection with Ramsey and Naifeh, she treated the issue as she would with any of her clients and that there was no conflict of interest.

"I don't consider my work on this to be a conflict of interest. Do I think there could be a perception of that? I think you'd have to ask other people," she said. "I don't perceive one."

Dick Williams, chairman of the Tennessee chapter of the government watchdog group Common Cause, said that even if Anderson's lobbying was legal, her role raises an appearance of impropriety.

"I can't blame the public for saying it looks a little funny," he said. "I wouldn't use the term 'it doesn't pass the smell test,' but I wouldn't be surprised if some people would."