Thursday, March 10, 2011

Illegal Lobbying by UT-Arlington?

While crafting laws and creating a budget for Texas, the State Legislature hears from vast numbers of constituents, both funded and unfunded, and this is indeed good for the process. Lawmakers should hear from folks as to how state actions will effect lives. There is an ethical problem, however, when entities use tax dollars for lobby efforts.

Apparently President James D. Spaniolo of the University of Texas at Arlington is using the tax-payer funded resources to lobby against concealed handgun legislation on campus. Certainly Mr. Spaniolo is entitled to his opinion and should share his concerns with State lawmakers. Unfortunately, it seems he put his lobby efforts on the UTA website and sent emails via the UTA Employee and Student listservs. Such actions are not only unethical in a general sense, but may violate Texas laws against political lobby activities paid for by state resources.

Although I disagree with Mr. Spaniolo in this debate (great factual information on the concealed handguns on campus issue here,) I fully support his right to lobby as a private citizen. I take issue, however, with his use of tax-payer funded resources to promote his position. Unfortunately, taxpayer funded lobbying is rampant and for other entities such as school districts and cities it is perfectly legal. Hopefully the law will be enforced in the UTA case; as for the other examples, we have much work to do.

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