Outrages of the Week

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AR: Free Plane Ride from Major Government Contractor Not a Conflict According to Gov
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took a free ride on a plane owned by Lord's Ranch, faith-based youth home. Lord's Ranch currently has a state contract worth $8.5 million, funded by federal Medicaid dollars. When asked about a conflict-of-interest, Huckabee merely said that he is "very careful." Good, we'd hate it if he was being sloppy with his conflicts. [Arkansas News Bureau, 6/16/06]

FL: Lobbyists Earning Hundreds of Thousands Declare Their "Right to Privacy" Protects Them From Disclosing Their Clients
Two of Florida's most prominent lobbyists have filed suit over new disclosure measures requiring lobbyists to report their clients and the approximate value of the contracts. It is no huge surprise that they dislike the requirements. Their initial filings show each earned well over a quarter-million dollars in just the first three months of 2006, representing such leading lights of the corporate world Anheuser-Busch, Philip Morris, and Wal-Mart. [Orlando Sentinel, 6/16/06]

RI: Governor Vetoes Contractor Accountability Measure
After Rhode Island's legislature passed a bill requiring more accountability of companies receiving government contracts to ensure that taxpayer money was being well-spent, Governor Carcieri vetoed the measure, declaring that it was too "burdensome" and would require businesses to make public proprietary information. It's your money, but you don't get to know where it goes. [The Providence Journal, 6/15/06]

UT: Replacing Government with Charity
Utah's Governor turned to a wealthy philanthropist who offered to match up to $1 million in contributions to keep Utah's Medicaid program covering dental services for low-incoms Utahns. The money was raised, averting disaster in the short-term. But the Senate President is already declaring that "[t]his is the first wave of cuts that we've seen coming in the Medicaid system. We'll probably see more. In fact, I know we'll see more." For Utah's strategy to continue working, they better find some more insanely rich generous folks. [AP, 6/15/06]

Special Interests Manipulate States, Hide Big Money Backers
Special interests based in Illinois and Washington, D.C., have dispatched the cavalry into Oklahoma, Oregon, and Montana in an attempt to get these states' voters to embrace Constitutional Amendments modeled on Colorado's disastrous TABOR measure to put state budgets in a straitjacket. Conservative signature gatherers sent in from around the country to Oklahoma may have violated state law, resulting in the possibility that their measure to cap spending will fail to qualify for the ballot. In Oregon, the effort is under fire for refusing to disclose where its money is really coming from. Similar criticism has been lobbed at the out-of-state interests in Montana. Signature gatherers there have also been accused of willfully misleading voters to gather signatures. [The Oklahoman, 6/16/06; AP, 6/13/06; The Oregonian, 6/11/06; Helena Independent-Record, 6/1/06; Billings Gazette, 5/16/06]