Prominent Second Amendment lobbyist Marion Hammer, with a long career of working in Florida, has been heavily occupied of late. A proposed constitutional amendment to the 2020 ballot requires her attention. Thanks to a recent administrative ruling, she's been freed up from a lingering ethics issue and can finally attend to that heady piece of electoral content.
Curses, say state Democratic leaders. They're still in a tizzy.
At issue was a probe instigated in both the state Senate and the House looking into possible improper reporting of compensation she received for lobbying duties. The Office of Legislative Duties ordered Hammer to refile her quarterly paperwork to properly reflect compensation she had received involving the National Rifle Association.
When the details of the filing errors were looked at it closely, they appeared to be little more than a correctable technicality; but the Democrats saw an opportunity. The complaint against Hammer was initially filed by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. A companion complaint was filed in the House by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. Hammer committed what amounted to "a clerical error," according to both Senate and House, and rules allow her a time period in which to correct such errors, which she has done. End of case.
The issue stems from new rules instituted that required a quarterly reporting method by lobbyists to show how they are compensated for services. Hammer’s status is that of an employee lobbyist, a not-her-own lobbying firm. Her work is directly on behalf of Unified Sportsmen of Florida. But the USF is directly supported by the NRA, and the compensation for her services comes directly from the NRA in its reports.
Hammer, a lobbyist and known fixture in Tallahassee for decades, had sought advice on the newer reporting requirements and was told her prior filings would be sufficient. “I have been a registered lobbyist since 1974,” stated Hammer. “I have never told anyone EVER that I am not a lobbyist. Since the filings for Unified Sportsmen of Florida are really a non-issue, we would have filed from the beginning had we not been advised to the contrary.”
Senate President Bill Galvano announced Hammer refiled her lobbyist information, and directed USF to file the compensation reports within the 30-day window set by Office of Legislative Services Counsel Audry Moore, and as a result, no further action was required. GOP state Rep. Tom Leek, who chairs the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, stated Hammer was in violation of Joint Rule 1.4 of the Legislature, but there is a time given to correct matters of this nature, and Hammer complied well within that time frame. Thus, the matter was closed in the House.
In a sign that they were looking to make this issue far more nefarious the Democrats expressed overly dramatic interpretations. Thurston suggested Republican Senate leaders showed a “willingness to abandon” Senate rules, even though the rules were adhered to. He went on to say this result was a way to “show the power of the National Rifle Association in the Florida Legislature.” Likewise, Eskamani sent out a tweet that expressed her own similar disappointment. She declared the House was expected to be ‘following the Senate’s lead’ so this did not surprise me, though it is equally disappointing.”
The Democrats want nothing better than to silence perhaps the nation's most effective lobbyist on matters of gun control. They're going to have to do better than that. They've just embarrassed themselves with their pettiness and, frankly, ignorance.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.