Transparency takes a kick to the groin

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Thanks, Vito, for keeping the lights off.

Heather, bravo! What with the short days and scarce visits by olí Sol, Idahoansí eyes wouldíve been jeopardized by suddenly flipping the brights on elected officialsí personal finances.

North Idahoans Vito Barbieri and Heather Scott were just two of the House State Affairs Committee members who killed a sensible proposal Wednesday to let voters know where candidatesí money is. The assassination occurred despite the fact that the bill was drafted by the committeeís Republican chairman and unanimously endorsed earlier by an impressive legislative panel.

Transparency be damned. Idaho will remain one of just two states ó Michigan is the other ó that donít require their elected guys and gals to pull the covers off their personal finances. Every other state does because, presumably, they think thereís some merit in citizens being able to determine where elected officialsí private interests might conflict with the publicís interests.

Silly public.

The only House State Affairs Committee members who voted in favor of simply wanting the bill to be heard were Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, and Democrats Paulette Jordan of Plummer and Elaine Smith of Pocatello. Thus the bill isnít just dark; itís silent because it wonít even be debated.

According to Rep. Loertscher and the legislative panel, all candidates for elective office at the state, legislative, county or city level would have been required to disclose:

• Primary employer and job title;

• All entities they own or serve as an officer;

• Every entity that has paid them $5,000 or more in the past year;

• All the boards on which they serve;

• Their spouseís name, employer and occupation.

As disappointing as this middle finger to citizensí right to know is, it should not be surprising. Constituents either agreed that financial disclosure is none of the publicís business or didnít bother to tell the House State Affairs Committee members why the legislation is important. Thatís on all of us out here in the land of the detached.

Itís also not surprising because in this great nation of ours, the inhabitant of the highest elected office can keep his personal finances in the dark. If itís OK there, it must be OK everywhere.

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