Sunday, May 07, 2006

Show me the money and get it done in Raleigh

The News and Observer started a three-part series today on lobbyists in Raleigh. Good lede:

Beth Petty, director of the Charlotte Regional Film Commission, wanted advice a couple of years ago on hiring a lobbyist. She turned to someone in a position to help: House Speaker Jim Black's political campaign director, Meredith Norris.

Norris recommended that Petty consider one of eight lobbyists. Most of them had done more than simply provide lawmakers with information about their clients. They also had helped lawmakers win re-election by giving and raising campaign money.

Norris suggested that once Petty had someone in mind, "it is a good idea to ask Speaker Black, Speaker [Richard] Morgan and Senator [Marc] Basnight their thoughts on the lobbyist."

That e-mail message, dated March 25, 2004, spoke to what many at the legislature already know -- to make things happen on Jones Street, you need more than a good idea or a worthy project. You need to play an insider's game built on money and connections. And that means lobbyists and campaign contributions.

It's almost too discouraging to read the whole thing. I'm not against people organizing to have their interests represented in the capital, but the money flow just gets out of hand. I'd love to see the General Assembly go back to meeting about 5 months every two years.

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