Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, said Friday that he will no longer ask lobbyists to contribute to his employer, the Multiple Sclerosis Society. However, its not because he feels it’s unethical, he said.
He said he’s doing because of the “unfair extra stress that has been placed on the families and victims suffering from this horrific disease.” In order to settle the issue once and for all Amann has called for another opinion from the Office of State Ethics.
Let’s face it, it’s a political problem not an ethical one, he said. He said he’s been working for the MS Society for three and a half years and this issue didn’t come up until he criticized Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s budget and Republican State Chairman Chris Healy jumped to her defense with this criticism of him.
But Amann said it’s nothing he can’t handle, “I have big shoulders.”
What does he really think? Amann said he thinks what his wife thinks about this issue “it’s bologna.”
State Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, said he applauds Amann’s decision, but he thinks the only way the legislature can address this issue is with a full-time legislature.
He said as long as there’s a need for legislators to find additional income elsewhere there’s going to continue to be conflicts. At the moment he estimated there were at least 60 legislators with possible conflicts of interest, meaning they’re voting on things that could potentially benefit their employers.
There’s Rep. Linda Schofield, D-Simsbury, whose own biography states that she is president of a consulting company that works with the health care industry. “She works with state agencies, insurance carriers, physician organizations, pharmaceutical companies, consumer groups and other health related entities. Most recently, Linda has worked extensively with numerous clients dealing with the new Medicare drug benefit.” Click here to continue reading Schofield’s bio. What committee’s is Schofield on? At least two that are dealing with the health care crisis in this state that will in some way have an effect on her clients.
Then there’s Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford, who will be faced with a vote on a state budget that gives a large chunk of money to his new employer, the Hartford School System. Click here to read about Roldan’s potential conflict.
Caruso said the pros and cons of a full-time legislature, at the very least, should be studied. Amann said he doesn’t support a full-time legislature because it steals from the diversity of talent. He said the public is already upset about high utility rates and mortgages and that they would revolt against having to pay wages for professional politicians, which is what a full-time legislature would create.
What do you think?