Lawmaker defends bill to allow lobbyists' gifts again
Posted April 9, 2013
Updated April 12, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A veteran Republican House lawmaker has filed a proposal to allow lobbyists to once again give unreported gifts to state lawmakers in North Carolina.
House Bill 640, filed by Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, would roll back many of the ethics reforms passed by state lawmakers in the wake of the House Speaker Jim Black scandal of 2006.
The measure would repeal bans on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers and relax requirements that lobbyists disclose such gifts.
Brawley returned to the state legislature in 2013 after having served from 1981 till his retirement in 1998 – well before the current gift bans were enacted. He's currently a member of House leadership, serving as chairman of the Finance Committee, an influential post that would almost certainly attract lobbyists' interest.
Brawley said via email that required ethics classes on gifts and disclosure requirements "are useless for anyone without internal ethics anyway."
"They only tell you the law. They do not guarantee integrity," he said. "What makes you think a person without ethics is going to obey a law anyway?"
Brawley also said in his message that the gift ban and other ethics laws pertaining to lawmakers and lobbyists "are an impediment to meeting and exchanging ideas and information."
"Yes, that often takes place over dinner, but there is more influence in who is nice to each other than there is in the exchange of money," he wrote.
"Those who feel left out because their threats and intimidation did not help them might learn from the old adage about honey," he added.
"I believe in the integrity of people, including legislators and, in over 30 years of serious involvement, have not seen any situation that these laws would have prevented or improved," Brawley said.