By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Conflicts of interest are always secondary in Washington, D.C. Who cares if John Tower is on the dole from the defense industry? That's how the system works. We elect them, we send them to the capital, we expect the politicians to maintain a residence in Washington as well as back home, we expect them to slog back and forth cross-country, and we pay them less than any junior partner pulls down at a Phoenix law firm. The entire scheme is financed by honorariums, excessive campaign contributions, all-expense-paid junkets, lobbyists-on-the-make, and, of course, John Tower-like conflicts of interest.
We do the same thing at the Arizona statehouse. We pay our legislators $15,000 a year for a full-time job they have to campaign for every 24 months. No matter what sort of campaign-contribution restrictions we come up with, the lobbyists always find a way around the law. And then we wonder why it is that special interests always make out better at the statehouse than the rest of us.
Who but sociopaths and egomaniacs would go through the drill for $15,000 a year?
If you're curious and you want to see the system in action, stop by Durant's any weeknight. You'll see our legislators soaking up the whiskey and steaks with strangers you don't recognize. The strangers are the local lobbyists.
Have a drink. Watch the deals go down. Say hello to Earl de Berge.