FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 5, 2009
Contact: Adam Mason
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, 515-282-0484 or 515-314-2655, email@example.com
Community Organization Demands Toughest Possible Sanctions
Des Moines, IA: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) filed an ethics complaint against the Iowa Pharmacy Association on Wednesday, for violating disclosure laws after it hosted a reception for lawmakers last February but failed to file a disclosure report within five days.
The Iowa Pharmacy Association filed the disclosure paperwork five months late, and only after they were questioned about a $7,127 reception by reporters in the wake of the drunk driving arrest of Waterloo Rep Kerry Burt.
“This disclosure violation is the real scandal,” said Hugh Espey, Iowa CCI’s Executive Director. “It deserves the toughest possible sanctions. We need to send a strong message to the big-money lobbyists that this kind of behavior will no longer be tolerated.”
“This is a clear example of the fox guarding the henhouse,” said Adam Mason, Iowa CCI’s State Policy Organizing Director. “They deserve the book thrown at them.”
Iowa CCI’s initial research has uncovered 26 additional late-filing disclosure violations by lobbyist groups during the 2009 legislative session. This amount represents nearly one-third of the 90 reports that were filed in 2009.
“Today we are focusing on the Iowa Pharmacy Association because its disclosure violation is the most egregious example of abuse of the law by special-interest lobbyists, particularly because they only filed after they were caught,” Mason said.
This emerging and growing political scandal raises new questions about the ability of the House and Senate Ethics Committees to accurately monitor and regulate these types of events.
In 2005, state lawmakers voted to strip oversight powers from the nonpartisan State Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and task the House and Senate Ethics Committees with oversight responsibilities. Since then, the number of reported filings have gone down, as has the reported amount of money spent at lobbying events.
Iowa CCI’s four-pronged strategy to reduce and eliminate the influence of big money on our political system is: 1.) better reporting, transparency, and disclosure (so everyday folks can see who’s trying to wine and dine, and influence, our elected officials); 2.) campaign contribution limits; 3.) public financing of elections; and 4.) better, tougher enforcement when campaign finance laws and rules are violated.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life -- urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans -- CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 30 years.