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Candidates favor stricter ethics laws

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Proposed changes in state ethics laws for
legislators are generally getting support from all three
gubernatorial candidates.
The Legislative Ethics Commission will seek stricter rules
during next year's General Assembly that would, among other things,
prohibit lobbyists from purchasing even a cup of coffee for a state
lawmaker.
The changes have been on the legislature's agenda since 2009,
but now seem to be momentum with the support of the gubernatorial
candidates, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader
(http://bit.ly/ney0un ).
The proposal also would forbid companies that employ lobbyists
from donating to the campaign of a legislative candidate during the
regular session of the General Assembly and would prohibit a
legislator's spouse from working as a lobbyist.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is seeking
re-election, said he "supports efforts to make ethics standards
more clear in order to enhance accountability and transparency to
taxpayers."
The Republican nominee, Senate President David Williams, said
last week that a Senate committee will meet at the end of the month
to discuss proposed changes.
"Kentucky already has one of the strongest statutes on the
books regarding legislative ethics. Many of these recommendations
are worth considering," Williams said.
Independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith, a Lexington attorney,
said he agrees with all the recommendations except one that would
prohibit lobbyists from directly soliciting contributions for the
election of a legislator or legislative candidate.
"We cannot support any legislation which stifles an
individual's free speech," Galbraith said, though he said he
believes the recommended ethics reforms are "long past due."
Lobbyist can currently spend up to $100 a year on each lawmaker,
but Legislative Ethics Commission executive director, Tony Wilhoit,
said that rarely happens because lobbyists have to report those
expenditures
Wilhoit said it is too early to tell how much support the
measure will gain with lawmakers.
"Sometimes it takes a few years to get legislation through the
legislature, but we believe all these measures are sound," he
said.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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