State Capitol News
4:07 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

State Lawmakers Debate Gift-Taking from Special Interests

The next time state lawmakers want to see the Wildcats take on the Lumberjacks, they may have to buy their own tickets. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Credit Jackcentral.com

Arizona law generally precludes lawmakers from taking gifts from special interests. But, there are many exceptions, including food, travel, speaking fees — and entertainment. And, there’s an even bigger exception: Lawmakers can go to sporting events, on a lobbyist’s dime, if every member of a clearly identified group is also invited. That could be as broad as the full Legislature or as narrow as just the members of the House Commerce Committee. Sen. Michele Reagan said there’s no reason for that.

“People can go to games. I go to games all the time. I just pay for my tickets,” she said. “I mean, there’s nothing that prohibits somebody from going. It’s just that if you have a lobbyist giving people tickets to events for free, the public doesn’t like that.”

But, Sen. Don Shooter said Reagan is making far too much of the issue.

“My feeling is nobody’s going to change their vote for a $20 baseball ticket,” he said. “I mean, it’s just foolishness. And, it’s a good time for us to go out in an environment that’s away from this place and the angst and the chaos that sometimes reins here, and in a social situation get together and do some work.”

Shooter said a better alternative is mandatory public disclosure. But, Reagan said she tried that last year only to have her measure die.