Thursday, September 06, 2007

Former Politicians Skirt Lobbying Laws to Influence Public Officials

This item ran in the Buffalo News on Tuesday, but better late than never.

The BN reports that several politicians in Erie County have more than $2.7 million stashed in their campaign treasuries. Slow news day in Buffalo? Not when you consider the fact that all of these politicians have retired or are about to.

A spokesperson for the state Board of Elections said the amount held by outgoing Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is "probably the largest I've heard about."

Unfortunately, the size of the kitty is the only particularly remarkable thing about this specific group of former lawmakers. As the BN explains, it is legal for politicians to continue to dip into their campaign coffers after they leave office as long as the funds are directed to political or charitable causes.

But like so many things in New York politics, being legal doesn't make it right. The BN notes that former officials often use their campaign funds to "stay in the game." So even though they are not allowed to lobby the branch of government in which they served for two years after leaving, former officials may still shower current office holders with their leftover campaign cash.

Just one more loophole screaming for reform.

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