The Times-Picayune, News Orleans, on regulating campaign donations

Nov. 2

The Times-Picayune, News Orleans, on regulating campaign donations:

Gov. Bobby Jindal came into office in 2008 determined, he said, to change Louisiana’s reputation as a haven for unethical behavior by public officials. He called a special session and persuaded lawmakers to approve an ethics reform package requiring public officials to disclose more personal financial information, forbidding lawmakers to do business with state government and setting dollar limits on lobbyists’ wining and dining of lawmakers.

It was the most comprehensive overhaul of the ethics code since its inception in 1964, and Gov. Jindal bragged that it made Louisiana “the gold standard” in some categories.

Five years later, though, there is little enforcement of the stricter rules by the state Board of Ethics, which lacks power and staffing. And despite the tougher financial reporting requirements and restrictions on lobbyists, money still drives politics and policy in Louisiana.

A four-month joint investigation by NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 examining 740,000 campaign contributions uncovered just how pervasive a force money is — and how big donors dominate our political realm.

“Louisiana Purchased,” a series of news reports appearing this month online, in print and on Fox 8, will identify violations of state campaign finance laws and document the ease with which donors with deep pockets legally skirt state limits ...

Louisiana residents ought to be able to trust that their tax dollars will be spent judiciously. They ought to be able to trust that the state will vigorously enforce its ethics and campaign finance laws. They ought to be able to trust that state regulators will look out for their safety and well-being. ...

We want you to help shape the debate. We want you to weigh in on ways to close loopholes in campaign finance laws and assure that contractors are chosen on merit. We hope you will dive into the database of campaign contributions on NOLA.com and see for yourself who is giving money to whom ...

We believe the way public policies, contracts and boards are influenced by campaign money in Louisiana is hugely important. Decisions should be made based on what is good for state residents, not on what is best for people who write big checks.

Online:

http://www.nola.com

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