News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


It's time now for lawmakers to earn pay hike

If the Legislature bans PAC-to-PAC transfers of campaign funds, members will earn their controversial pay raise.

On the same day that legislators overrode Gov. Bob Rileyís veto of a 62-percent pay raise they passed on a voice vote, Senate leaders took steps to get the PAC legislation to the floor for a vote.

The House earlier passed the ban on political action committees transferring money. Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. and Senate leader Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove, assigned the House bill to the committee where they said it has the best chance of surviving.

Thatís an important decision because the House voted to ban PAC-to-PAC transfers in recent years only to see the legislation die in the Senate.

The bill is now in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Mitchem and Lt. Gov. Folsom urged quick passage. Mr. Folsom said the legislation is long overdue. Sen. Mitchem said the legislation would make elections more honest.

Elections in Alabama often go to the candidates with the most money to spend. That money usually comes from people with special interests. To keep the public in the dark, these people contribute money to a PAC that launders it in transfers to one or more PACs before it reaches candidates.

Last fallís race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was the most expensive judicial race in the country. Winner Sue Bell Cobb and incumbent Drayton Nabers together spent about $7 million. But because of PAC transfers, voters are not sure who donated the money.

If this Legislature does nothing else notable but ban these transfers, with no loopholes, it will go down as one of the best in years.

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