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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Davis rolls out sweeping ethics proposal



U.S. Rep. Artur Davis rolled out the first specific policy proposal of his gubernatorial campaign on Thursday calling for a vast overhaul of the state's ethics laws that would limit contributions from individuals, ban all gifts from lobbyists and force a public official who is indicted to vacate his seat.
His plan would also require those who lobby the executive branch to register with the state, ban the transfer of money between political action committees and stop legislators from lobbying their colleagues for discretionary money to help their employer.
Davis, D-Birmingham, said officials cannot build the public trust in enhancing education and changing tax policies without restoring confidence and trust in government. He said the best way to boost the public’s trust is through stronger ethical standards.
Davis announced his ethics plan at a luncheon of the Women’s Network at The Harbert Center in Birmingham. He announced earlier this year that he would not run for reelection and would run for governor in 2010.
The congressman said there has not been a significant rewrite of the state’s ethics law since 1973 and he said the state is typically rated in the lowest tier among its peers for ethics laws.
Davis said some of the proposals are new, but acknowledged some of them have been introduced previously and never made it through the Legislature. He said the economy and state budgets would be the top priorities, but after those issues were addressed he would call a special session right after the regular session to address ethics reform.
Davis said he would then travel the state giving a version of the speech he made in Birmingham and making the case for ethics reform and building confidence in government.
Alabama leads most other states in the number of officials indicted and has some of the weakest ethics laws in the nation, Davis said. He said the proposal would be one of the strongest ethics packages ever introduced or passed in Alabama.
Several governors and many legislators have proposed some of the initiatives, such as banning the transfer of money between political action committees, but those have died.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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