Friday, January 11, 2008

Fun With Conflicts of Interest

[Politics] This week's cover of City Weekly focused on some of the legislature's most grievious conflicts of interest when it comes to legislators legislating with their personal profit in my mind. In another article Ted McDonough highlighted some potential ethics reforms coming up, and pointed out that currently legislators have to vote on every bill that comes up.

These articles beg the question of why we even have conflict of interest forms? As it stands now the forms act only a a resource to the public. One I doubt is very much utilized. But then again there is a very real reason why. We just can't be bothered.

These records for the most part are all online nowadays, convenient?...well it could be.

But let's face it as a generation becoming very adept at surfing the web, we've all been conditioned to focus on websites with smooth, sleek and accessible links and features. With most web based business betting their entire fortunes on sleek websites, it's no wonder that we've been conditioned to gravitate towards a functional and aesthetic web layout-and to bounce fast from ones less user-friendly.

Now that being said...go check out the Utah state legislature website.
You'll find the House Conflict of Interest forms under the House bar. Ok simple enough, now try and find the senate conflict of interest forms. You'd think they'd be under that senate tab right? Well turns out your wrong.
For more fun try checking out financial disclosure for candidates on the state election site. Think it would be listed under "Financial Disclosures"? Well that's a good, intuitive guess...but ultimately wrong.

Now for the ultimate exercise in websurfing frustration take any one of the vague and anonymously listed Political Action Committee's from a candidate's disclosure report and then try and go find any info for that lobbyist group on the state election offices Lobbyist registry.

If you can do that inside of 20 minutes I'll buy you a beer.

Hmm, let me hedge my bets a little bit, if you can find that info out in 20 minutes without whispering under your breath "what the fuck?" as you navigate these labrynth like websites--then I'll buy you a beer* (Eric S. Peterson)

*Not a real offer folks, besides isn't doing your civic duty reward enough?


  1. Thanks for your efforts in exposing corrupt lawmakers with conflicts of interest.

    One of the first things I look for when voting is the candidates' occupation. If they work for a corporation, I don't vote for them. Period. If you work for a corporation, you have a conflict of interest.

    If they work for government at any level, I'll consider voting for them. Obviously government employees tend not to have conflicts of interest. The Utah Legislature has several current or retired government employees and none of them made your list, which proves my point.

  2. Thanks for bringing us a story that the other papers ignore.


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