Skip to comments.(TN Governor) Bredesen Calls Special Session for Ethics Jan. 10
Posted on 12/20/2005 4:02:40 AM PST by mcg2000
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Phil Bredesen on Monday called the General Assembly into special session next month, and urged lawmakers to pass strong ethics legislation to help restore public trust in elected officials after a scandal-filled year.
Beginning Jan. 10, lawmakers will evaluate proposed legislation covering several areas including the creation of an independent ethics commission, increased disclosure and regulation of lobbyists, open operation of government and changes to campaign finance laws.
Ethics issues took on a greater urgency following the Tennessee Waltz government corruption sting in May that led to bribery charges against five current or former legislators plus a lobbyist and a political operative described as a bag man.
"The events of this past year, while difficult for us all, have brought us to a moment of unprecedented opportunity for change," Bredesen said in a news release.
The special session is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. - one hour before lawmakers had been slated to start the regular session.
House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, has said he expects the special session to be completed within three weeks.
Lawmakers already have some familiarity with the proposed legislation because of a series informational sessions held this month, House Majority Leader Kim McMillan said. That should help usher a 93-page bill toward passage, she said.
"I don't know that there will be any battles, (but) I think there will be some discussion and I believe a lot of that has already started," said McMillan, D-Clarksville.
Some legislators have questioned what level of lobbying disclosure is necessary, and whether there is a need to create an independent ethics commission when the state already has a Registry of Election Finance, she said.
Bredesen has said he plans to keep a low profile during the special session.
"We've been trying to play a leadership role behind the scenes," he said last week. "I would like this to be the Legislature's package."
Bredesen said he doesn't plan to shame lawmakers into making substantial changes to the state's ethics laws.
"It's one thing to come from the outside and strike everybody by the ears and tell them what to do, but that never lasts...," Bredesen said. "It's not a matter of I stand up and say 'here's some set of rules and standards and you better pass them or else I'm going to embarrass you publicly, or something like that.'
"I don't think you ever get what you need out of that kind of thing," he said.
Bredesen declined to include any specific language in the call relating to problems at the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Allegations of political favoritism and mismanagement at the patrol and the state Department of Safety culminated in the resignation of three top officials earlier this month.
Bredesen has said that he wants to wait for the results of a preliminary analysis by security consultant Kroll Inc. before considering any new legislation. Kroll's report is not expected to be complete until the end of next month.
State Republican Party chairman Bob Davis criticized the decision to leave the patrol off the call.
"While a special session is important to deal with the ethics issues important to Tennesseans, Gov. Bredesen should lead by example and clean up his own house first to restore the trust of Tennesseans," Davis said in a statement. "The controversy surrounding the Tennessee Highway Patrol is a start."
Pretty much. Tennessee politics are about as corrupt as it gets and it's not just the state house.....
Ever heard of Byron Looper? He's the guy who shot his incumbent opponent dead at point blank range a few years ago while running for a state house seat. Looper stalked this guy, found him tending to his cows on his farm and shot him in the head. That one hit close to home because a very old friend of mine used to have Looper as his roommate. Looper was a crook from the time I first met him when he was about 18.
I saw Looper's story on City Confidential ... pretty sad. Lifelong crook, huh?
Ol' "Low Tax" Looper.