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Legislator Gifts

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For common folk, Christmas and the excitement of getting a gift or two came and went a few weeks ago. For Utah legislators, though, the gift-receiving season is moving into full swing.

If the past is any indication, and we believe it is, lobbyists will shower lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session and beyond with an array of goodies. Many senators and representatives will be taken out to fine restaurants, get tickets to JAZZ games, and perhaps play a round or two of golf.

Eighty five thousand dollars! That’s what lobbyists spent entertaining Utah lawmakers during last year’s legislative session, according to a recent story in the Deseret News. That’s an average of about $817 per legislator.

Wouldn’t common folk love to be wined and dined to the tune of more than $800 a year!

Every year we hear key legislators saying it’s absurd to think they’re influenced by the gifts they receive. But, if that’s the case, why do lobbyists spend so much money entertaining our public servants? After all, who really knows what a freebie here or there will accomplish?

Those lawmakers who defiantly resist reforming the system need to remember they wouldn’t be the recipients of what lobbyists are willing to give if they were mere common folk - not elected officials with the power to affect bottom lines with their legislative votes.

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