Florida, the state of all things amazing and bizarre, may be set to ban lawmakers literally schlonging lobbyists.
The push comes fresh on the heels of Sen. Jack Latvala losing his chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, after a string of sexual harassment complaints and his getting busted making out with a lobbyist in public, and after formerly incoming Democratic leader Jeff Clemens was reported by Politico to be doinking a lobbyist who was not his wife.
Florida State Sen. Lauren Book is proposing that the state ban lobbyist-diddling as part of its existing ban on gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists– a possible extra, rhetorical condemnation of what Latvala and Clemens appear to have been doing, since it indicates only one-sided enjoyment.
Lobbyist-doinking by lawmakers is not confined to Florida. GOP Rep. Bill Shuster nearly lost his primary in 2016 over his own schlonging of a lobbyist employed by a trade association whose top lobbying priority Shuster conveniently has made a major push to enact, multiple years running. Shuster has stated that his lobbyist girlfriend does not lobby him.
It is not clear whether the proposed Florida ban, if enacted, will ultimately contain any carve-outs for the kind of situation apparently applicable to Shuster, in which the relationship is a consensual, long-term, non-extra-marital one.
It is also unclear whether Congress could consider enacting a similar ban. Multiple Members have been alleged to be carrying on relationships with lobbyists over the years, and it seems plausible that the “goodies” on offer by virtue of such relationships would be more likely to sway congresscritters’ thinking on key areas of policy than the occasional dinner at the Capital Grille.
That said, regulating such relationships does appear to be problematic in view of constitutional protections of the freedom of association. Or perhaps more accurately, “association.”