There’s a petition on the White House’s “We the People” site to force congressional lawmakers to wear NASCAR-style outfits in order to make it easier for everybody to identify who the lawmakers’ sponsors are.
“Since most politicians’ campaigns are largely funded by wealthy companies and individuals, it would give voters a better sense of who the candidate they are voting for is actually representing if the company’s logo, or individual’s name, was prominently displayed upon the candidate’s clothing at all public appearances and campaign events,” the petition said.
“Once elected, the candidate would be required to continue to wear those sponsors names during all official duties and visits to constituents,” it continues.
It’s an idea I first raised in a column seven years ago, and one that would come in handy today, especially in Florida.
Take for example, the panicked scurrying that’s been going on over Internet cafés. For years, the Florida Legislature has been in a state of paralysis over these lucrative businesses, which are unlicensed casinos masquerading as Internet-access businesses — and run for maximum tax avoidance by an organization that bills itself as a charity.
This week, though, Florida lawmakers drafted and moved on hastily-written legislation that would make these fly-by-night casinos illegal.
Their sudden call to action came on the heels of a federal investigation that resulted in 57 arrests and caused the sudden resignation of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who used to do public relations work for Allied Veterans of the World, an alleged charity that ran dozens of Internet cafes in Florida for years.
Allied Veterans of the World was started by a pool hustler in South Carolina with a criminal history of running illegal bingo games in Florida. And it operated in the state for years, even though this $300 million enterprise gave only a tiny slice of its earnings to veterans.
How can something like this have gone on for so long?
The answer is probably wrapped in the more than $1 million Allied Veterans of the World and its related groups have donated to both political parties and their candidates during the past four years.
So now those people who are supposed to be working for us are hilariously trying to regain their ethical virginity by shedding the now-tainted dollars received from their benefactor. It’s a little bit like un-robbing a bank.
This all might have been avoided if lawmakers had been forced to wear the NASCAR jumpsuits on the job. The big Allied Veterans of the World sponsorship patch on their lapels might have made it more apparent why they were ignoring the calls by some Florida sheriffs over the years to draft a law that would shut down these businesses as unlicensed gambling dens.
Same thing goes with gun legislation. A new Quinnipiac poll of Florida voters shows that 91 percent of them favor a law that requires universal background checks for people buying guns.
Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, has sponsored a Florida law that would do that. But it’s getting nowhere in the Republican-controlled legislature, which is also ignoring a slew of other sensible gun control bills.
The reason why state legislators are willing to ignore the overwhelming wishes of their constituents would be visually apparent if we could see the bloom of NRA patches on the lawmakers’ jumpsuits.
“The size of a logo or name would vary with the size of the donation,” the petition says.
Just think how much easier it would be for voters to judge the motives of their elected representatives if their words were accompanied by a visual reminder of whose interests they were really working for.