GOP Auctions Off Legislators to Lobbyists
Fundraising appeal says that legislators are “for sale”
The Carver County Republican Party is auctioning off the opportunity to “get up close and personal” with Members of Congress and state legislators in a fundraising letter sent to Minnesota lobbyists. This political fundraiser confirms what many Minnesotans have felt for years: our legislators are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The invitation asks lobbyists to bid on this exclusive opportunity to spend time with Congressman Kline, Congressman Paulsen, State Senator Ortman, State Representative Leidiger, State Representative Hoppe, State Representative Stensrud and Speaker of the Minnesota House Zellers.
It’s time we had the best leaders money can’t buy. What’s most disturbing is that Minnesota law allows for legislators to auction themselves off to the highest bidder. We need to clean up our elections, and do it now.
While Minnesota law does not explicitly forbid this type of political fundraising, it does cross a line on what is acceptable behavior for some of the most powerful members of the Minnesota legislature and U.S. Congress. Auctioning off the Speaker of the House, the chair of the Senate Tax Committee, chair of the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform committee, the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee gives lobbyists access to directly influence policy.
It’s time we take the “for sale” sign off our government, so that it works for working and middle class Minnesotans. That politicians are allowed to auction themselves off to lobbyists shows why the political system is broken.
It is clear that there is a growing ethics problem at the Minnesota state capitol. Common Cause Minnesota will begin working with legislators to introduce an ethics reform package to clean up state politics. Our laws need to more explicitly forbid this type of activity, as well as the kind of action taken by Senator Newman during the session when he refused to meet with individuals that supported his opponent. The most critical of these reforms is an independent ethics panel that can investigate this type of behavior and hold elected officials accountable. Until that occurs, legislators can continue to act with impunity.
UPDATE: The Carver County GOP has since taken down the auction section of the website.