Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Lawmakers Behold the Mote in Their Interns' Eyes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Lawmakers Behold the Mote in Their Interns' Eyes

Article excerpt

Those hussies. Those wenches. Those brazen temptresses. Flouncing around the sacred marble halls of the Missouri Capitol, near occasions of sin for pudgy, middle-aged lawmakers, derailing careers, threatening public humiliation. Something must be done! We need a code of conduct!

Let's face it: It's pretty embarrassing that this should be a problem. We're adults, they're kids. We're supposed to be Leaders of Our Communities, sent to Jefferson City to represent the god- fearing people of Missouri who would be appalled if they paid attention to us.

But this is the Frog Kingdom, as a wise man once said: Frogs hop across that bridge and become princes. And princesses. We're away from home. Some of us are big-shots for the first time in our lives. Rules, to the extent there are any rules, are pretty lax.

There's free food and booze everywhere and two or three parties every night. Lots of money changes hands ... campaign cash from all of these great new people who are our new best friends. Some of us don't handle it very well.

We probably need to change the rules, take some of the money out of the process. Limit campaign donations. Put limits on how many meals and gifts and junkets the lobbyists can give us. Make it harder to be a $36,000-a-year lawmaker regulating ethics one day and a $150,000-a-year lobbyist the next. Make it look less suspicious. Make it harder to cash in.

Nah.

Let's work on the intern program instead. This ought to be easy. How hard is it to draft a set of common-sense guidelines for dealing with young people who want to get some experience in state government? But we are who we are, so let's make this process as difficult as possible, really humiliate ourselves.

We'll put Kevin Engler in charge of it. He's a smart guy, he's been around, got a good head on his shoulders. …

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