Dr. David Braden hosted the fund-raiser. This correspondent attended and can verify more than a few doctors were in attendance, as were what seemed to be the creme de la creme of Brookhaven society. Cars lined the street as Brookhaven police officers handled traffic control and provided security for the event. Volunteers shuttled people back and forth in golf carts. Speaker Gunn did not attend, as the House of Representatives was still in session that night, but Representative Currie told the crowded room he “was sorry he could not make it but he sends his regards."
|Photo of street in front of Dr. Braden's home. Taken from porch.|
We have family practice physicians against it, internal medicine, all your specialists (listed specialties)... they're against it, your community mental health against it, your pharmacists against it, your dentists against it, and probably your nurses against it, your physical therapists against it, so there is still a lot of people who are not for managed care in the form that it's in....
I haven't gotten the truth (from Medicaid). They'll just kind of look at me and leave.... I don't have the faith in them that you do....
Representative Currie then took the floor (39:22) and told personal anecdotes as she attacked the bill. (Her speech is worth watching if one is interested in the Medicaid program.) The bill passed on a 106-11 vote and was later signed by the Governor.
Attempts to obtain comment from Speaker of the House Philip Gunn were unsuccessful although he was in the field yesterday surveying storm damage.
Kingfish note: That was the news, now for the opinion. This fund-raiser sets a very troubling precedent. I write this opinion as someone who has opposed the Mississippican program in the past. There are no laws or rulings that state members cannot hold fund-raisers during a legislative session. However, there is an unspoken rule in the legislature that members should not raise money during the session.
There are several obvious reasons for such a tradition. Legislation can be held hostage to fund-raising. A good ole boy telling someone "now look'a here boy, you want that bill moved, you just gots to pay to play". Nah, that wouldn't happen, would it? There is that little matter of the appearance of impropriety, regardless of whether any actually takes place. Taking contributions from a bunch of doctors at the home of a doctor does not cast the Representative and the rest of the legislature in the most positive light, especially if the doctors are opposing a program she is voting on within a few days.
What is more troubling is the Speaker of the House giving his approval to such fund-raising by allowing his Representative to publish his name on the invitation as a "Special Guest" and send his "regards" when he was unable to appear. One can only wonder if the customs in the House concerning fund-raising during a legislative session are indeed changing- and not for the better.
Imagine the Republican shrieks and howls if Speaker Bobby Moak held fund-raisers the week before a key gaming bill appeared on the floor of the House. Consider the reaction if Chairman Ed Blackmon decided to have a fund-raiser right while a bill erasing most tort reform measures sat in his judiciary committee. Such is the problem with precedents. Once one side sets them, the other side can use them as well. The Speaker of the House should make it clear members should not hold fund-raisers during a session.