‘Same Old, Same Old’: Raptakis Raps Reporting System
Friday, May 07, 2010
Secretary of State Ralph Mollis may not be in a hurry to fix a broken lobbying reporting system, but state Senator Lou Raptakis seized on a GoLocalProv investigative report to call for immediate reforms.
“It’s the same old, same old,” Raptakis told GoLocalProv.
“This has been a problem for a long time. It is clear that this administration is not in a hurry to address this,” Raptakis added. “I think they just don’t want to rock the boat and upset their friends in the House leadership or the Senate leadership.”
GoLocalProv has reported that the online database maintained by the Secretary of State at www.sos.ri.gov, does not make it clear how much any one lobbyist or lobbying firm made and does not distinguish between executive and legislative lobbyists.
“When you add up the totals, it doesn’t add up,” Raptakis said. “There’s got to be a clear definition between how you lobby, when you lobby, and what your compensation is.”
Raptakis wants to file a bill to reform the system. But, since the February filing deadline has long since passed, he said needs permission from Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed. “We’re going to probably be denied, but we’ll ask,” he said.
Otherwise, Raptakis says implementing the changes will be among his top priorities if elected Secretary of State. “You need to be as open as possible,” he said. “It is very, very important to know who the lobbyists are.”
Chris Barnett, the communications director for Mollis, disputed Raptakis’ claims.
Barnett said the online database of lobbyist information had been improved in 2007 and 2009. “Anyone who can't see how far the system has come since 2007 is either playing politics or just hasn't been paying attention,” Barnett said.
“Secretary of State Mollis has made more data about lobbying available to the public than anyone who has ever held the office,” Barnett added.
He said the Secretary of State puts thousands of lobbyists reports, with their issues, compensation, and clients on their site. Barnett said the hundreds of Rhode Islanders who use the database every month “find the system useful.”
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