The Alabama Legislature gathered in Montgomery this week for its annual regular session, and there are plenty of issues to take up. As usual, there will also be many proposals that won’t get anywhere and, if the taxpayers are in luck, won’t be allowed to waste a lot of time under debate.
But there are some that are certainly worthy of consideration, such as a bill expected from Sen. Jim McClendon that would prohibit certain state-elected officials from accepting campaign contributions from gambling interests.
His intent is to hamstring the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which operates casinos on tribal land in the state. The tribe opposed McClendon’s lottery bill last year because it included electronic lottery sales points at the state’s legal parimutuel dog tracks, according to al.com.
McClendon is on to something. The people’s business is influenced by special interests in many ways, not the least of which is campaign contributions. Often, these contributions are shielded from public view by political action committees that comingle funds from a variety of donors and then forward contributions to candidates as PAC donations.
In a perfect world, our elected officials would be unswayed by big money donors. One means to that end is banning political contributions across the board. However, doing so would simply invite corruption, just as Prohibition created a new wave of moonshiners and bootleggers.
Banning campaign contributions from any source will never work. However, singling out gambling interests for prohibition is simply unfair, and would cost the state dearly in a futile defense of the inevitable lawsuit.
A better solution is for elected officials to do the will of the public rather than the special interests that bankroll them. After all, it is the people’s business.