Friday, November 14, 2014

Ethics Question 3: Roger Bedford, Etal.

Some things in life are taken for granted without much thought from the average Joe or Jane Citizen. Shoalanda herself will admit that she had never thought about today's topic until approximately two weeks ago. Let's start here: What do our state legislators do?

We couldn't find a job description exclusive to Alabama, but we did find an all-inclusive one:

When their legislative body is in session, state legislators create and process bills that will become state law if approved. They also form issue-related committees and subcommittees and debate and read bills and amendments on the legislative floor.

So, is this all? Does four lines cover it?

Most of us know of another role these legislators fill; they assist their constituents with various problems. Certainly Roger Bedford has been known to help a friend out when dispersing state funds. Anything else?

They appear, either for or against, at parole hearings. Is this in their job description? We're using the word "appear," but many will only write the board or call. It is less frequent for them to actually put in an appearance.

Some time ago, Roger Bedford and Johnny Mack Morrow attended a parole hearing for a Franklin County citizen. Also attending was Tammy Irons. Why Tammy? We assume she identified herself as a friend of the inmate's family, but we all know that the board knew who she was.

D.K. has asked us to address this again. We have no idea how ethical or unethical it may be. After considering the issue, it would seem that our legislators should not be allowed to influence the board either for or against unless they had personal knowledge of the case (that's not hearing about it years afterward).

Has anyone ever filed any ethics charges against those who attend and influence such hearings? We don't know, but we do know it would be almost impossible to learn of a phone call to a board member. Perhaps if any contact was required to be registered, it would solve the problem?


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