In the past 3 months three legislators, a U.S. congressman, and an Alabama Secretary of State have all resigned from their elected jobs to become lobbyists. What else do they have in common? They are all from the Great State of Alabama and are members of the Alabama Republican Party.
Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman (R) announced her resignation on July 8th to work as a lobbyist for the Alabama Farmers Federation. Thankfully, former Alabama Secretary of State and chairman of Jacksonville State University’s Board of Trustees, Jim Bennett was appointed to fill Secretary Chapman’s vacated seat.
State Rep. Jay Love (R-Montgomery) resigned on July 10th to become a lobbyist for the newly-formed Business Education Alliance. U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Mobile) resigned August 2nd to oversee government relations for the University of Alabama System.
State Rep. Jim Barton (R-Mobile) resigned August 7th to become a lobbyist for the Kinney Capital Group. State Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka) announced recently that he will resign effective Sep. 30th to work for the Alabama Realtors Association.
The special elections to fill the vacant positions are expected to cost Alabama taxpayers nearly $2 million. Yes, you’re footing the bill.
As an Alabama citizen, voter, and taxpayer I take offense to these resignations. By what measure do these individuals feel that it is acceptable to break the social contract with their constituents?
Under what moral determination is it acceptable for an individual to declare the faith of thousands of voters so unworthy of his or her service? These instances are those that perpetuate apathy in Alabama citizens.
To know that taking the time to become educated on issues, assess candidate qualifications, and venture to the polls on Election Day might all be for naught is simply dispiriting.
It seems to me that respect for public service in this state and nation is on the decline. It is occurrences like the five above that help to solidify that descent in public attentiveness.
What I see when I look at this picture is a common theme. I see a theme that for a handful of politicians, being elected to public office is merely a stepping stone; a business move.
How awful to think that we as voters might have been manipulated as pawns in a politician’s chess match to advance his or her personal career. I believe that as voters we have the tools to slow these revolving doors to a halt.
By becoming civically engaged, we can determine which candidate(s) are actually interested in serving us – the public. We can use our knowledge, our passion, and our votes to propel true public servants into office. That’s what it has always taken and that’s what it is going to continue to take.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.