Letter of the law should be followed

The next time you have lunch with a state legislator, try to pick up the check. There is an excellent chance he or she will refuse. Ethics laws, you understand.

And that is the point: State legislators in both Ohio are fully aware of laws such as those limiting conflicts of interest and influence by lobbyists. While allowing a constituent the lawmaker may have known for decades to pay for a $15 lunch is harmless, many politicians don’t like risking an infraction.

A former lobbyist in Ohio has been fined $2,000 and put on probation for failing to report gifts to legislators. They included expensive dinners and tickets to Cincinnati Bengals football games.

A condition of the sentence was that the ex-lobbyist must cooperate with investigators looking into whether to file charges against the legislators.

That should be done. Pleading ignorance of the law just won’t do. These people write the laws, for heaven’s sake.

Many politicians argue – perhaps honestly – that their votes cannot be bought for a few hundred dollars’ worth of entertainment. That may be so. But the law is the well-understood law, and it should be enforced to the letter.