Three recent criminal investigations of three members of the legislature appears to have created a climate for ethics reform at the state Capitol.
Senate leader Charlie Shields of St. Joseph proposes three ethics bills for the 20-10 legislative session. One bans lobbyists from making any campaign contributions to incumbent legislators seeking another term or to any incumbent governor’s campaign committee or continuing committee.
Another requires all legislative employees to divulge outside income of more than five-thousand dollars.
Shields’ final bill establishes a special independent investigator within the state ethics commission.
He says, “It needs to be somebody that understands the political system…It needs to be somebody who has an investigative background…but also, probably a fiscal/accounting background.”
The ethics commission already has the power to investigate complaints. But Shields says the creation of a special independent investigator’s position gives the commission more teeth and special investigative expertise.
Shields says none of his proposals would have changed what the three legislators have been convicted of doing. But he says passage of his bills will help remove the cloud their actions have placed over the legislature.
Priddy interviews Shields 4:03