Legislators Have Already Failed to Pledge Disclosure of Meetings with Lobbyists
PHOENIX – Former Arizona fraud and public corruption prosecutor Andrei Cherny today challenged his Democratic opponents to join him in calling for a complete ban on members of Congress accepting junkets and free tickets to sporting and entertainment events – and in personally pledging to refuse such gifts.
Last week, Cherny challenged Sinema and Schapira to join his pledge to disclose all lobbyist meetings online if elected to Congress. Neither has done so.
Cherny says that current ethics rules -- both on Capitol Hill and at the State Capitol -- don't do enough to keep government open and honest. Cherny has proposed the toughest and most transparent ethics reforms package of any candidate for federal office.
"Americans don't believe Congress is working for them, and they're right," said Cherny. "Gifts to lawmakers are wrong whether they are discounted loans or football tickets. We’ve seen that time and time again both in Congress and the state legislature. Serving the public should be reward enough – and if it’s not, it’s time for those politicians to move on."
Given their own records on ethics issues, Sinema and Schapira should join Cherny's pledges on lobbyists and gifts.
Sinema has taken dozens of free tickets and gifts valued at more than $500 from outside groups over the course of her legislative career. She has accepted the kinds of privately funded junkets that would be banned under Cherny’s proposal. [Source: Sinema Financial Disclosure Forms; "Arizona lawmakers who received free sports tickets," The Arizona Republic, June 25, 2011]
Even after the Fiesta Bowl scandal demonstrated that state ethics rules are far too lax, Sinema told The Arizona Republic, "I don't think we need to change the law." [Source: "Fiesta Bowl trips spur push to revamp state rules," The Arizona Republic, May 1, 2011]
On another occasion, Sinema told KPNX-12's Sunday Square Off, "One of the most important things that money does in politics is it gives you access. That’s what money does. It gives you access. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that."
For his part, Schapira also has a history of accepting gifts. He took free sports tickets not available to the public, including tickets to an Arizona Cardinals game and 27 Arizona State University athletic events. [Source: "Arizona lawmakers who received free sports tickets," The Arizona Republic, June 25, 2011]
According to The Arizona Republic, the Cardinals said they offered the tickets to legislators, including Schapira, to "curry favor" and "improve its standing at the Arizona Legislature after losing battles to the Fiesta Bowl over stadium-sharing issues." [Source: "Arizona Cardinals gave lawmakers tickets," The Arizona Republic, June 26, 2011]
Schapira did not disclose accepting the free NFL tickets to the public, which would have violated U.S. House ethics rules. [Source: "Arizona Cardinals gave lawmakers tickets," The Arizona Republic, June 26, 2011]