The lights are low. You smile across the table at your date. This is going well, you think. You take a sip of your drink to calm your nervous energy. You decide the time is right. You lean in. You ask the question. "What are your thoughts about credit union regulations, Representative?"
That's what may play out in Utah, where some Republicans in the state House of Representatives are going to let lobbyists "date" them in exchange for campaign contributions. The House Republican Caucus is organizing a "speed dating" session where lobbyists will be able to buy a brief "date" with lawmakers. The announcement for the event even sounds like a personals ad: "House Republican Caucus seeks fun-loving individuals to share warm winter evening."
Organizers say it's just a fun, new way to raise money. But the speed-dating plan is drawing a lot of criticism--some of it from other House Republicans. One legislator calls it "disgusting" and "absurd." Others say they won't participate.
Paying for access to lawmakers is hardly a novel concept. But with so many lobbying scandals on the national level right now, setting up "dates" between elected officials and lobbyists might be crossing the line. As one Utah Republican puts it, "It just doesn't pass the smell test."