Senators probably will amend reports but believe Israel trip not a gift

After this Las Vegas Sun piece by Andrew Doughman and the follow-up attack by Sue Lowden, I expect the lawmakers who went on the trip to Israel will amend their financial disclosures, even though they believe they are not required to do so.

My feeling on this is that all of this stuff should be reported, whether required or not. It is true, though, that these folks did not try to keep ther Israel trip secret -- I reported on it shortly after it occurred.

There are at least two documents worth revealing over this -- both letters to secretary of state deputy Scott Gilles from Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes. Both are attached here.

The first, in August of last year, was pretty plain in its conclusion and applies to the Israel trip: "...we have opined that the acceptance and use by a Legislator of a free ticket to a charity fundraising dinner, the acceptance and immediate charitable donation by a Legislator ofa gift of jewelry from a visiting dignitary and the payment of the travel expenses of a Legislator for a legislative fact-finding trip, symposium or educational conference where the Legislator's time and attention is devoted to the fact-finding trip, symposium or educational conference, are not reportable gifts."

As I said, I think they should be reported, and this is the same explanation used by William Horne and Kelvin Atkinson when they took that Poker Stars junket.

The second letter to Gilles, late last year, informs the secretary of state's office that its interpretation of a gift must go through a set process to put it into regulation.

I have long been an advocate for more transparency, and this Israel trip, even if it could be argued that it doesn't fall within the gift disclosure requirements (IF), what's the harm in reporting it if you can justify the excursion? Because someone might use it against you?

This may be a tempest in the campaign teapot, but it illustrates the larger problem, which is that people in public office will have access to such trips and should simply let everyone know they took them rather than finding ways not to. It's all right to go beyond what the law says if the law doesn't go far enough.