Regulating N.C.’s political bedfellows

From an editorial Sunday in the Fayetteville Observer:

Politics makes strange bedfellows, they say. But that’s an observation about surprising alliances in the interest of getting things done, not an excuse for anyone to prostitute themselves.

It might seem like common sense that legislators and their staffs, who are strictly forbidden from accepting gifts and services from lobbyists, also shouldn’t be bedding them while there’s state business at stake. Perhaps “common sense” is a bit less universal than the term implies. Several staffers for former House Speaker Thom Tillis made hasty exits a couple of years ago after they were caught engaging in intimate partnerships with lobbyists.

The intoxication of physical temptation, or even true love, can blur anyone’s exercise of sound judgment. The State Ethics Commission has since found that existing law doesn’t clearly forbid such liaisons.

Fortunately, Rep. Rick Glazier of Cumberland County is among the sponsors of a bipartisan bill to bring clarity to the issue. Under his proposal, legislative officials in sexual relationships with lobbyists would have to recuse themselves on issues related to the lobbyists’ business.

That should be clear enough, even for the most ethically challenged or romantically smitten in Raleigh.