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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

e4 as promised

As I promised one of our senators (Mae Beavers) has some good input on ethics reform. The following is from Senator Beavers:

"The hot topic of the year for this legislative session is ethics. I think everyone is well aware of the events that have precipitated this discussion. However, you may not be aware that no matter how many ethics bills pass, very little will actually change up here on the Hill.
The primary reason for this is the lack of an elected Attorney General.

In other states that have an elected Attorney General, such as in Kentucky, one will often hear stories of legislative or executive ethics violations. However, these stories are usually accompanied by

In Tennessee, the laws are so vague that they are difficult to interpret. Often a crime will be stated in the code but there be no penalty set forth. In other cases, a penalty will be set forth but there will be no jurisdiction given. This is why even if a crime can be identified; there is no one who can take action on it. These are just a
few of the tricks used by law makers to ensure the status quo.

This year I have authored a bill that would provide for an elected Solicitor General. The Tennessee State Constitution calls for an appointed Attorney General, so rather than attempt to amend the constitution, we have simply asked for a Solicitor General who would be over the Attorney General. The Attorney General would still be appointed by the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General would assume most of the duties of the Attorney General but would not be beholding to anyone, but the voters, for his position.

It is my hope that we can change the system so that it will keep law makers accountable and always remind us that we are sent here to serve the people, not to enrich ourselves at their expense."


  1. It sounds like the plan is to bump the AG down and replace it with a solicitor general. However, since the Tennessee constitution is very vague (and does not delineate the powers of the AG nor his rank), this should be accomplishable without amendment.

  2. I'd just like to understand why State Senator Miller from Chattanooga was so protective of lobbyists in a quote in the Tennessean today. Saying something to the affect that lobbyists play such an important part for the System . And that the "People" (his constituents) are making them out to be demeans. I'm not as politically savvy as y'all seem to be, however, to me lobbyists are like lawyers, on the side of whomever is paying their salary and not really interested in the facts of the law. Perhaps I'm naive, but this is really the way i feel and I apologize if I'm wrong.

  3. Lobbyists represent those who cannot represent themselves. Right now, the strongest lobby is the AARP. Many senior citizens do not have the resources to drive to the capital, shmooz with the legislators, and draft legislation that favors their cause. However, for a small monthly fee, they always have someone watching out for them. Sean, you are correct that lobbyists function as lawyers. But, a similar case can be made for doctors. Many times, we, as patients, will not know the doctor we are assigned in the emergency room. However, that doctor's job is to help us however they can regardless of how they feel about our position... for a fee, of course ;)

  4. Well, most people don't have a problem with the "information providing" role of Lobbyists; it is when Lobbyists start throwing money around that bothers people. And I don't agree that Lobbyists speak for the voiceless (or whatever). They DO speak for who pays them. And while some groups need a voice, the main question is can the group afford a voice. That's why you have to elect people with good character, and ought to have term limits (less incentive to feather one's nest), and need smaller gov't (to lessen the impact that a legislator has on your daily life).

  5. I agree with the money issue that you brought up, Powertee. Good point.

    Term limits are an interesting little animal. On one hand, if an elected individual truly represents the people, and does a fine job at maintaining accountability to his or her constituents, the term limit placed upon that person would only guarantee that a new face *must* replace that person eventually. On the other hand, as you pointed out, term limits do place reasonable limits on the "career politicans." For example, in my opinion, Duncan has done a fine job representing the people of east Tennessee, and has maintained an honest, ethical integrity in his work. In this instance, term limits would hurt our situation: we're all familiar with Duncan and his stances, and we know that he at least does respond to the voice of his constituents. By implementing a term limit, we would essentially be taking a gamble that the next representative would be as responsive and honest in his work. However, there are many other politicians who should not even be in office, and a term limit would be the only way to get them out.

  6. Interesting that Mae is for electing the Attorney General -- a Constitutional Amendment to do just that sponsored by Senator Kurita was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee with the Republican Chairman voting no along with a negative vote from the Republican Caucus Chair.


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