Apparently confusing Oregon for New Jersey, Democrat House Speaker Jeff Merkley has decided that the rules don’t apply to him. Oregon House members are prohibited from soliciting and accepting contributions during legislative sessions, including the one held in February. Merkley, though, has decided that it would just be too difficult for him to obey the rules and has obtained a ruling from the Legislature’s legal office that says it wouldn’t apply to his federal campaign.
For his part, Merkley has said that “he won’t take campaign money for his US Senate race from lobbyists and others with an interest in legislation while he presides over the Oregon House during the February session that starts Monday.” Perhaps Oregon is unique, but in most other states the business of the legislature is the business of the people, meaning that Merkley would only be accepting contributions from outside of Oregon. I sincerely doubt that that’s what he meant. Apparently Merkley thinks strictly in terms of those who stand to benefit from government contracts or loopholes as opposed to the people who, unlike Merkley, have to play by the rules that are set by the legislature. The hubris expressed in Merkley’s statement speaks volumes about his view of government and is a case in point of why people no longer have faith in the government. Merkley apparently believes in government of the government contractors, by the contributors, and for the lobbyists.
Merkley’s decision suggests that he would fit in quite nicely with the likes of Alan Mollohan and William Jefferson. Steve Novick, his main opponent in the primary, summed it up nicely when he said, “He is using a technicality to say that the rule doesn’t apply to him. That’s exactly the kind of thing that makes people cynical about politics.” Those considering supporting Merkley should be under no illusions about his priorities. He made clear in his statement that government is the business of lobbyists and special interests, not the working men and women of Oregon. If he is that far detached from them in Salem, just imagine what would happen if he went to Washington.