Greater transparency wasn't something Jim Risch was often known for as a leader in the Idaho Senate - caucuses among the senators were rightfully closed, he would note, since what was discussed in them was our business. Others would take issue with just whose business it was.
But this post is by way of praise: In one of his early acts as governor, he has taken an action which serves to expand openness in his own office, and in such a way that it highlights as well the way influencers ply their trade.
The people whose job it is to work with government on behalf of organizations - associations, businesses, labor, other governments, whoever - sometimes find it necessary to deal directly with elected officials. It often happens that way in the case, say, of the Idaho Legislature, where lawmakers ordinarily have no staff people and have to handle all their own business themselves. More often, though, in the bigger picture, those government relations pros are dealing with staff. In Congress, most lobbyists only seldom talk to The Senator; most of their work is done with The Senator's staff. Even in state agencies that's often true, and often as well in states (such as Washington and Oregon) where legislators do have staff. And so with governors as well; most of the time, most people who have business with the governor do most of that business with the people who work for the governor. (more…)