Sen. Ray Jones declares in 10-minute speech that 'corporate cronyism is alive and well' in Capitol

01/15/2014 05:24 PM

Calling lobbyists in the state Capitol “minions,” Democratic state Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville made a case against big money influence in state politics. And Jones said in a floor speech that he’ll soon introduce legislation to ensure lobbyists disclose how much money is spent on all lobbying efforts — and how it’s spent.

“Corporate cronyism is alive and well,” Jones said, borrowing a line that GOP U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin likes to use.

While the employers of lobbyists are required to report how much money they spend on total lobbying, Jones says the law has a loophole “you could drive a tractor-trailer through any given day of the session.” Jones said if legislative agents are pro-rating their time that they’re billing to employers, there’s no way to accurately account for lobbying.

“How do you determine the time they were actually engaged in lobbying,” Jones wondered aloud. “Some law firms have employees that are hired as legislative agents…How do you distinguish large amounts of money which are paid for legal advice, consulting, strategy planning versus what’s actually pro-rated to reflect lobbying?”

Jones spoke for more than 10 minutes in his floor speech.

That prompted Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, to respond with his own speech.

Stivers told reporters that he took issue with the way Jones admonished colleagues for “casting dispersions towards this body saying that in essence we’re following a corporate money trail.”

Overall Stivers said that if Jones wants to talk about disclosures, than perhaps its time to disclose “who everybody works for — should individuals be able to vote on budgets for whom they work?” Jones is a lawyer.

Jones responded to Stivers speech calling it “interesting spin” and telling fellow legislators this would be an issue he will return to over the course of this session.


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