As you may know the nation's largest full-time legislature, recently returned to session following a two-months-plus summer break, has only a few days left in Harrisburg before taking time off to campaign for re-election.
In the event any of these fine public servants knock on your door, send you a mailer or hold a local meet-and-greet that you decide to attend, there's a good question you should considering asking.
Why in the world is it perfectly legal in Pennsylvania for lawmakers to accept gifts of any value, including cash gifts, from anyone seeking to influence votes or policy-making so long as it's reported?
Why, especially, is this the case even after four Philly lawmakers were caught on tape taking thousands of dollars in cash that was not reported from a lobbyist cooperating with law enforcement?
The Harrisburg Patriot-News offers a fine editorial on the topic, "When Pa. legislators come asking for your vote, ask them this." You can read it here.
The point is, well, obvious. Elected officials stuffing their pockets with cash is a cliche for corruption, a clear message of being bought and paid for. It's a cartoon image that you'd think any elected deliberative body would strive to avoid.
And yet since The Inquirer reported the alleged pocket-stuffing back in March, the Legislature has allowed the image to continue.
Yes, the Senate passed a rule (without the force of law) and the House passed an intelligence-insulting measure that says members can't take cash but checks, gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, etc., are just fine, please and thank you.
But nothing has been enacted and sent to the governor's desk. All they did was move C.Y.A. stuff they can point to as "reform."
It's shameful. It disrespects constituents. It further diminishes the institution.
So, go ahead. If you see a lawmaker ask him or her about this. And ask how we're supposed to respect elected officials who don't respect us.