U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman has made it legal for lobbyists to give money and other gifts to Kentucky legislators. Bertlesman’s ruling says it is now OK for lobbyists who are paid to influence legislation to give gifts to lawmakers. He also said it was OK for lobbyists to donate money to lawmakers’ campaign accounts and to raise money for their re-election bids.
“Influencing the government through the act of lobbying is at the heart of the political process. A law that specifically restricts what a lobbyist can and cannot do regarding a legislative member of government is a suppression on their freedom of association with those individuals,” Bertelsman wrote.
Kentucky’s law banning lobbyists giving gifts to lawmakers includes “anything of value,” which Bertelsman said was too vague. He relied on the testimony of John Schaaf, the executive director of the Legislative Ethics Commission, who was asked if it was illegal for a lawmaker to accept a bottle of water from a lobbyist. Schaaf said it was possible.
“This testimony alone indicates that the law is unconstitutionally vague because it does not give a person of ordinary intelligence the ability to know what conduct is prohibited,” Bertelsman wrote.
Is someone pulling my leg? How did this idiot ever get to be a judge? More important, how do we get rid of him?