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Private gifts can’t fund government positions
Jul. 28, 2021 5:00 am, Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 10:28 am
I was reading the July 2, 2021, Southeast Union. On the front page was an article titled "Southeast Iowa Sierra Club pushes sustainability plan." As I was perusing the article, I came across this little gem under the sub-heading, Sustainability Coordinator, "The city of Fairfield has committed $15,000 toward the sustainability coordinator's salary, and will reassess that contribution after a year. Maharishi International University has committed $15,000 per year for three years. The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors has not committed any money yet, and thus the Sierra Club plan to make up the funding through donations from businesses and individuals and grants through Pathfinders RC & D."
I wonder how many people have thought about just what that means. I know that on the federal level, gifts from the private sector can only be accepted by approval from Congress. This was intended to remove the specter of favoritism or corruption from the donations. And, since many State's Constitutions follow the lead of the United States Constitution, including Iowa's, I am betting that the university and private donors can't fund the sustainability coordinator as a government position. Which brings me to my second point.
If this position isn't a government position, then the sustainability coordinator has no legal standing. Anything that is "suggested" has no weight of legal teeth behind it and is just a private agency advocating for itself. Advocating on behalf of a private entity is the function of a lobbyist. So why is the city of Fairfield paying the salary of someone who is going to lobby them? I'll just let you think about that for a moment.
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