The Policy Foundation’s interest in ethics reform dates to 1998 when it made recommendations to prevent double-dipping in terms of compensation.  Double-dipping has reemerged in the past year following media reports that Arkansas government officials returned to work after “retiring” to draw taxpayer-funded salary and retirement benefits.  A lack of transparency, in this episode contributed to the problem.


Lack of lobbyist transparency is another example. Some lobbyists represent special interests seeking to expand government at the expense of taxpayers.  Sometimes these lobbyists interact with government officials in ways that escape public disclosure.  For example, lobbyists are currently required to publicly report “each payment for food (including beverages), lodging or travel costing in excess of $40 per day” that is provided to a public official.  The Arkansas Ethics Commission explains, using the following example:


“If a lobbyist takes a public servant and his or her spouse to dinner and spends more than $40 on the public servant or more than $80 on the public servant and his or her spouse, the lobbyist shall itemize the expenditure.”


But if a lobbyist spends less than $40 on the official the expenditure is not currently reportable.  Requiring all expenditures to be disclosed would close this loophole by expanding transparency..


A related issue is the lack of transparency for government expenditures sought by some lobbyists on behalf of special interests.  A searchable check register would increase transparency and provide taxpayers with a tool to better understand the appropriations process.



         All lobbyist expenditures should be reported and disclosed to taxpayers.

         A searchable check register of state expenditures should be established.