Every Alabama citizen should know that our state senators will likely vote Tuesday on HB227, a bill that encourages corruption. This matters to you, your neighbors and your families.  

We are the members of the Alabama Ethics Commission, volunteers asked to serve by the leaders of this state for limited terms. More importantly, we are citizens of Alabama just like you, who are in a unique position to understand the Ethics laws and how important they are to all of us. You deserve to know that HB227 will make it easier for money to influence your lawmakers.

Those who support this bill say that it makes the Ethics laws “better,” but it doesn’t make it better for YOU. This bill was created by politicians for politicians. They say this bill makes the ethics laws “clearer,” but the only thing clear in this bill is that those with money will be able to corrupt your elected officials and public servants more easily.

The Alabama Legislature knows we object to this bill and Attorney General Steve Marshall objects to this bill, but our combined opposition hasn’t stopped some members from attempting to push the bill through in the final three days of the session. Your voice can stop them. Click here to see our objections to HB 227 that we shared with the Legislature.

We know they haven’t heard from you because, like all of us, you are living your lives, working your jobs, raising your families, and trying to keep your head above water. Ethics isn’t and shouldn’t be at the front of your mind. Your leaders won’t tell you what this bill will do, because if they did, you would be outraged and try to stop them. A vote for HB 227 is an invitation for corruption, and you can tell them not to send it. 

HB 227 removes the Ethics Commission, an independent agency, from any involvement in investigating alleged use of office for personal gain or corrupt influence, decriminalizes ethics violations, including the “gift ban,” and allows unlimited and undisclosed gifts from lobbyists as long as they claim to be “friends.” “This bill assigns civil penalties (referred to by some as ‘speeding tickets’) to an array of serious and substantial violations of the public trust, regardless of the amount of money involved,” Alabama’s attorney general stated.  

What can you do? You can tell them to stop this bill. We can all feel left out of the political process, but your elected officials DO care how you feel about the legislation they are considering, and you can make a difference. Let your voice be heard. Make sure they know that you want to keep the Ethics laws in this state strong and that you don’t want them to make it any easier for money to influence politics.

You can easily find your representative here and find their e-mail address here. Money and power may fund campaigns, but your vote is what elects your leaders. Make sure your state senator knows you want to protect him or her and the citizens of this state from corruption. Ask them to vote “NO” on HB 227, the “ethics bill.”

John Plunk, Chair; Lyn Stuart, Vice-Chair; Brig Gen (R) Edward F. Crowell (USAF)

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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