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01.01.2009 0

Profiteers Attempt to Gut Colorados Popular Pay-to-Play Ban

  • On: 01/09/2009 10:59:41
  • In: Corruption
  • By Robert Romano

    As the recent disclosure of scandals by Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, and Rod Blagojevich illustrate, pay-to-play abuses—campaign and other contributions that shape the terms of government contracts, earmarks, job hiring and appointments—are a deepening problem in American politics.

    They fall little short of outright bribery. And livid Americans want an end to the culture of corruption that pervades governments at the federal, state, and local levels, where, very simply, one has to pay the right people off to receive government monies and favors.

    As a result, there is a growing movement nationwide to enact pay-to-play restrictions—narrowly-tailored bans that prohibit campaign and party contributors from receiving sole source government contracts. And reforms currently have been enacted in New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, South Carolina, West Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, and most recently, Colorado.

    Yet now in Colorado, residents—who just approved by ballot Amendment 54 that creates a statewide database of no-bid government contracts and prevents government contractors from using campaign contributions to make deals with politicians—are learning that even after such reforms are enacted, the politicians, unions, and not-for-profits will stop at nothing to maintain the contributions-for-contracts culture of corruption.

    ALG News has learned from top Colorado sources that entities that were restricted by Amendment 54—public employee unions, not-for-profit organizations, and utilities—are now prepared to go to court to achieve what they could not win at the ballot box.

    These special interest entities are preparing, in short order, to file suit after suit against Amendment 54, ostensibly to create the impression of a groundswell of public outrage against the constitutional provision. They will argue that their free speech has been trampled. In truth, they simply want to maintain the monopolies they have on government contracts.

    In reality, it’s an effort to bring back the culture of corruption to Colorado being spearheaded by infamous litigator Mark Grueskin. In August, Face the State, based in Colorado, wrote an informative backgrounder on the lawyer, and quoted the Independence Institute President Jon Caldara—whose organization Mr. Grueskin was suing over its own ballot initiatives—as saying that Mr. Grueskin is the “king of frivolous lawsuits,” and said, “he is a political operative more than he is a lawyer.”

    The suits—to be filed by the very beneficiaries of the sole source contracts—are designed for but one purpose: to roll back the popular reforms before the ink has even dried.

    And, ironically, what they really do ultimately is underscore the need for narrowly-tailored laws that restrict who can receive no-bid contracts to ensure that they are not just paying off the politicians and the kind of unscrupulous contractors who have long specialized in pay-to-play abuses.

    Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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