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Dem Bills in AL Would Hurt Legislative Transparency and Ethics Investigations

If the intent is to prove that Democrats can also have dumb ideas, then Mobile area Rep. Joseph Mitchell has outdone himself with two pre-filed bills. One would set up "pivileged communications" for legislators and the other could possibly help legislators thwart ethics and criminal investigations. Are you seeing a connection there?

HB35 is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, would require that all conversations between legislators and staffers be "privileged and confidential."  Um... that sounds suspiciously like "attorney/client privilege" and really makes you wonder what's going on down in the Statehouse.

What on Earth would make Rep. Mitchell think that Alabama voters would fall for such a scheme? We don't have to worry much about this turkey getting added to the long, long list of constitutional amendments, but you have to wonder why anyone would think it's a good idea.

Meanwhile, HB34 has some in law enforcement spooked.  The so-called "Alabama Litigation Accountability Act" has a great name, because who could possibly be against "accountability?" However, names can be deceiving.  

Under existing law, there is no requirement for departments and agencies of the Alabama Legislature to notify each member of the Legislature whenever a legal action is instituted against the department or agency or any of their employees acting in their official capacity.

This bill would require each department and agency of the Alabama Legislature to notify in writing each member of the Legislature whenever a legal action is instituted against the department or agency or any of their employees acting in their official capacity, and to post the notice on the Internet website of the Alabama Legislature.

As with so many legislative bills lately, the specifics and long-term implications aren't clear.  John Archibald wrote:

It is not yet clear if that bill would actually tip Legislators to corruption probes, such as those in the old bingo investigation, or if it would merely notify them of lawsuits and indictments. Like I said, some investigators fear the worst.

Mitchell did not return calls or emails, so I don't know his intent. Suffice it to say this thing has as much to do with "accountability" as Bruce Willis' hatband.

Both of these bills, should they even make it out of committee, need resounding NO votes. We need better ethics and more transparency in Montgomery: these bills would just make the situation worse.

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