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LOBBYISTS: Money seems to open doors

Letter by Jill Jensen, Tacoma on May 8, 2013 at 11:21 am | No Comments »
May 9, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: “In Olympia, lobbyists grabs the tab – and the connection” (editorial, 5-5).

Lobbyists’ ability to access our elected legislators rings true for me; my multiple efforts to speak with legislators regarding bills (SB 5304 and HB 1408) that would allow digital billboards on our state roadways went unanswered.

Yet Tacoma-based Gordon-Thomas-Honeywell (GTH) – lobbyists for advertising behemoth Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) – apparently had much better luck. GTH, which has been paid more than $51,000 in 2012 and $19,300 to date for 2013 by CCO, managed to grab the attention of the bills’ sponsors when I could not. Can such donations influence legislators’ decisions?

Two HB 1408 bill sponsors – Reps. Dan Kristiansen and Chris Reykdal – were given donations by CCO in 2011 and 2012. Is it possible legislators received even more? Perhaps meals, entertainment, drinks or gratuities? Can’t say. The Public Disclosure Commission paperwork submitted by GTH and CCO did not detail how the $70,000-plus was spent.

The bills did not pass this session in large part because of public outcry, yet CCO has already announced its intention to bring back these bills next session.  Will the third year of lobbyists garnering legislators’ attention – certainly more than I was able to do – ring the death knell for preserving our natural beauty?

The sounding alarm has rung yet again, and it cries out that our system as it stands is twisted and broken. I wish I too could have accessed our state lawmakers as easy as GTH and CCO did. If only I had the money . . .

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