Sac Bee is shocked that pols take gifts!

If there’s a point where railing against public graft slides from informative to merely silly, the Sacramento Bee editorial page nailed it today. “They live large, with not a hint of shame” thundered the headline of an editorial denouncing the 38 lawmakers busted last week by the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for not disclosing gifts. The deck was even more inflammatory: “Lawmakers rake in gifts, oblivious of how it looks to constituents.”

This is not merely wrong, but ridiculous.

Let’s recap: The FPPC is investigating a bunch of state assembly members and senators for not making public various gifts they received from corporations and lobbyists. The resulting scandal derives not from the lawmakers accepting the gifts (which is legal) but from their systematic failure to disclose said gifts to their constituents.

It’s quite clear that the accused lawmakers are far from “oblivious” where their constituents are concerned — if anything, they’re all too aware of how their accepting free dinners, basketball tickets and spa visits looks to the voters who ultimately put them into power. Otherwise, I’m quite sure they would have disclosed their gifts with thoughtful abandon.

Apparently, the Sac Bee’s website agrees with me. The “oblivious” deck appears in the print version of the editorial, but not in their online edition.

-Anthony Pignataro

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