Cash of Thorns

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There's a thornbush, I'm pretty sure it's the acacia, from which it is impossible to extricate yourself quickly or smoothly. Once you get swallowed by it it's slow, torturous work to get yourself out -- kind of analogous to escaping the snare of lobbyist contributions if you're politician. This article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle chastises for giving in to the siren song of lobbyist money (can the acacia bush produce a siren song? discuss) and compromising their integrity with every dollar deposited and round of golf played.

The headlines are full of stories of improper influence on the part of lobbyists, bribery scandals, and other fodder for the stories of corrupt government. But the road to lobbying scandal can be paved with good intentions:

I believe many people go into politics with good intentions. They're going to change the way things are run. They're going to get rid of the special interests and vow to not be bought by anyone.

But a funny thing happens on the way to Washington — they receive campaign contributions from lobbyists, they get a dinner invitation from another lobbyist or they play a few rounds of golf with a lobbyist. Before you know it, those lobbyists are writing the laws behind closed doors.

Campaign contributions are one way lobbyists play the game -- in Washington, and in state legislatures around the country. Since lobbyists aren't going anywhere (nor should they) we need to focus on changing the rules of the game and publicly financing our elections so politicians don't have to rely on lobbyist money, or factor that in to their decision-making when in office.