Something strange happens to politicians the longer they’re in power—the line between what is proper and what isn’t starts to blur. Or worse, they knowingly bend the rules, thinking they’re impervious to the consequences.
Which is which is impossible to determine, since journalists solely judge facts, not motives. But after observing the legislature for a while, you start to notice patterns.
Take for instance the charges against Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, who was indicted this week on charges of misconduct in office involving—wait for it—money.
“One charge against Quinn, common law misconduct in office, accuses Quinn of taking $4.5 million in money “from lobbyists’ principals,” or professional associations and trade groups,” The (Columbia) State Newspaper reported this week.
Quinn has maintained his innocence during a months-long Statehouse probe, which has centered on his family’s consulting businesses.
The probe, led by prosecutor David Pascoe, a Democrat, is a partisan witch hunt, Quinn has said. So far, Pascoe has stung three Republican House members and one Republican senator in the ongoing probe, which in 2014 took down then House Speaker, Bobby Harrell.
But whether the probe reflects a partisan witch hunt or not, that answer doesn’t satisfy the question of whether—and to what extent—it is proper to deliberately benefit financially from relationships forged under the copper dome.
And whether or not Quinn did so, as the indictments allege, is yet to be established. But if he did, benefitting from millions of dollars from lobbyists and associations by virtue of your position in the Statehouse underscores the mental gymnastics legislators undergo to declare something as proper.
Quinn was a member of the state House from 1989 to 2004 and House Majority Leader from 1999 to 2004. He was re-elected in 2011.
Legislators’ perspectives might benefit from a little less time in the Statehouse. Certainly the citizens they’re tasked with representing would. It’s time to consider term limits.