February 08, 2004

"Big Feeds" for Georgia's Legislature

Way to a lawmaker's heart

This is kind of... well, frankly, it's a little sick.

First, there's the big feeds themselves. They're not exactly "heath conscious".

But let's ignore that for a little bit, and then dive into what big feeds are really about: members of the state Lege getting fed by lobbyists. All of them.

Let's take a little quote:

"If you haven't gained 15 pounds during the session, you're not doing your job," said House Speaker Pro Tem Dubose Porter (D-Dublin), carrying a chili cheese dog and a plate of fries. "You're not getting out and talking to people."   "If you're not careful, you could gain 50 pounds," interjected Bibb Distributing Co. representative Deidra Stewart.

I'm going to skip the pigs in the trough metaphor for a simple reason: it's too easy to dismiss the implications. Anyone with enough money and cash to feed our politicians is getting attention, and groups who do not, don't. Proof?

  "The problem is, it's available only to people who can afford to put on events, and there's an implication that if you want legislative attention, a certain amount of putting on the dog is expected," said Neill Herring, a Sierra Club lobbyist. "It's an unfortunate expectation."   Every year Herring's group holds a dinner at Southface Energy Institute, several miles from downtown Atlanta, to honor legislators who have supported the environmental group. The event, Herring said, is far less posh than many of the breakfast, lunch and dinner receptions held for lawmakers.

This is in a state with a huge set of educational, infrastructural and corruption problems. Now it seems that we're watching the legislation being bought by cheese fries.

Posted by Ted Stevko at February 8, 2004 12:17 PM | TrackBack