The Case for Ethics Reform

The Romney gotcha video was apparently the sort of thing that Speaker Tim Jones was referring to days ago when he said the abundance of iPhones was a safeguard against corruption in the capitol.


And while he’s true the iPhones will catch the candid thoughts of politicians, what average citizens (and lobbyists, and journalists, and politicians, and others) worry about is a subtle corruption that’s woven into the fabric of doing business in the capitol.


It’s most obviously evident in unlimited campaign contributions.


Studies of human behavior make it clear that rather than the tidy division of “good” people and “bad “people, we’re all much more alike in our moral fragility than we imagine.


Moral compasses will stray where the circumstances and incentives are constantly pushing them to.  And that’s the situation we have.  A system designed for to create conflicts of interest and temptation, rather than one designed to limit these situations.


How do you take $10,000 checks, or $100,000 checks, and pretend it doesn’t have some influence your thinking and actions?  Only by believing that you’re immune to the human condition, above temptation and wrong-doing.


Now Republicans won’t yield the advantage they have gained though unlimited contributions.  That’s clearly off the table.


But the legislature should pursue some ethics reform: true transparency, for example.  No more fake non-profits to hide contributors, a more robust reporting system and website for campaign contributions and financial disclosures, and a stronger more aggressive Missouri Ethics Commission with the level of funding to achieve greater policing.


Originally in September 18 MOScout.