Seeing Green in Kentucky: Money in Politics

I read with interest today’s report in the Courier-Journal by Tom Loftus summarizing the lobbying efforts of the Kentucky Optometric Association in promoting a bill that would expand their scope of practice and give their licensure board more freedom to define what other things they can legally do. The administration of medications and the ability to perform laser surgery are among them.

Two things are remarkable to me.   The first is the swift and overwhelmingly bipartisan support for the bill.   The second is the remarkable amount of money spread so widely among legislators of both parties.  The money, also called campaign contributions, was given to 137 of the 138 members of the state legislature and both gubernatorial candidates.   It was good business for the lobbying community as well: at least 18 of them helped to spread the fertilizer. The only legislator who did not receive a contribution was representative David Watkins, who also happens to be a physician of the MD variety.  His position appears to be similar to that of the Kentucky Medical Association and might be paraphrased as, “If you want to practice medicine, go to medical school.” (Disclaimer:  I am a member of the KMA.)

Some $400,000 in political contributions were spread around in the past two years alone. To put things in perspective, the Kentucky (MD) Physicians PAC gave only $70,050 during the same period, and the Ophthalmologic (MD) Physicians pack gave $20,750.   The MDs were obviously outbid by the ODs.  The bill passed out of the Senate by a vote of 33 to 3.  I did not think anything could pass out of the Senate with such cooperation nowadays! Continue reading “Seeing Green in Kentucky: Money in Politics”