Sara McManamy-Johnson's Column: Resolution smacks of abuse of power

It’s not unusual for lawmakers to officially honor people, businesses and organizations. I would wager most, if not all, have proposed dozens of such resolutions during their terms in office. And those resolutions mean a lot to the people being honored; it’s nice to get ...
Apr 18, 2013

It’s not unusual for lawmakers to officially honor people, businesses and organizations.

I would wager most, if not all, have proposed dozens of such resolutions during their terms in office.

And those resolutions mean a lot to the people being honored; it’s nice to get a pat on the back occasionally.

But does that pat on the back really mean quite as much when it’s your own hand doing the patting?

State Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, is taking some heat this week for passing a resolution honoring himself.

Well, at least we don’t have to suffer through any false modesty.

I will grant it was pretty slick how he couched it – the resolution, which was written by his own staff, actually honored his public relations firm, The Corporate Image, for 20 years of service.

But still.

And did I mention he also previously passed a resolution honoring his daughter when she graduated high school?

To be fair, Lundberg told a Nashville television station that he reimbursed the state $300 for his latest resolution, so taxpayers evidently didn’t foot the bill.

I can’t say one way or another whether we did, but the time spent by those staffers writing the resolution and those lawmakers’ floor time could have been used for something other than the senator’s own ego.

I’ll point out that the prestige of that resolution could conceivably garner clientele, boosting his profits from the business.

Overall, the situation smacks of an abuse of power.

Few would deny there are definite “perks” to being in an elected office – there would have to be; civic-mindedness will only go so far when you consider all the hassles and drawbacks. Those elections can get mean.

But there are also definite lines between the small little perks stemming from the prestige of the positions and taking advantage of the positions.

Thousands of students graduate from high school every year in Tennessee. If lawmakers passed resolutions honoring every high school student graduating, Tennessee law would likely be a lot shorter and framing companies would crop up on every corner.

But they don’t.

I can understand Lundberg being a proud papa – both of his daughter and his business – but I also believe he took it too far.

Every time he submits a resolution for consideration, he’s acting in an official capacity in service of his constituents. And every time he uses that official capacity for personal gain – even if that gain is simply to gratify his ego – he’s shortchanging those constituents.

Did he break any laws with these resolutions? Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe not.

But they definitely seem kind of slimy to me.

 

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