Ethics reform needed

Published 2:54 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When it comes to ethics reform, a lot of legislators talk publicly about how we need it, but they have no intention of ever voting for it.

I sponsored a bill this session to give the Alabama Ethics Commission subpoena power to question witnesses and examine records for their investigations of corrupt public officials.

Alabama is the only state in the nation without this authority, and the recent corruption convictions of two Alabama legislators, coupled with the current climate of county and state corruption, bolsters the argument that we need it.

When the subpoena power bill came up for a vote in committee in a room full of reporters, the bill sailed out favorably with bi-partisan support.

After that, the bill mysteriously disappeared and never made it to the floor for a full House vote, because the powers that be did not want to see it pass.

It seems that some in Montgomery either don’t understand concerns about public corruption, or they simply have no regard of what their constituents care about.

The daily revelations of public corruption across our state demonstrate the need to have ethics reform debated and discussed in public, not buried by legislative procedural tricks.

I believe the people are well served by the two-party political system in America and in Alabama. I am proud to be a Republican, but I have avoided making hyper-partisan statements during my tenure in the Alabama House of Representatives.

It is time, however, to call out those who have stood in the way of passing meaningful ethics reform in Alabama. For 113 years, Democrats have controlled both houses of the Alabama Legislature, and in recent years they have governed with little or no regard for reforming the state’s ethics laws.

For those opposed to ethics reform, the days of empty rhetoric are coming to a close, and the voters will have the final say. I will do my part to get the word out.