Friday, June 12, 2009
Church under Attack in Connecticut, again... (this story broke two weeks ago, when I was urgently taken with things that were not blogging)
The Office of State Ethics in Connecticut is investigating the Diocese of Bridgeport for irregular lobbying activity in connection with its organization of resistance to Ct. Bill #1098.
The Diocese of Bridgeport has filed suit against the OSE officials in Federal Court.
Basically, the OSE has decided (not) to interpret the Ct. lobbying law, but simply to apply it to the Church. The law defines lobbying (sec. 1-94)) as expenditure in excess of $2000 for the purposes of influencing legislation. It requires that lobbyists register with the appropriate state office, which in turn involves consent to state oversight of the registered organizations books and activities.
Of course, the Church spent more that $2000 to organize a massive public rally at the capitol building with less than a week's notice. The point is that the Church spent the money with a view to exercising citizens' constitutionally protected free speech and assmebly rights.
Said simply, the lobbying law requires registry of those parties, which spend in excess of $2000 on lobbying. If organizing a rally is lobbying, then words have no meaning, and Thrasymachos is right.
Every lawyer with whom I have spoken about the matter assures me that the OSE simply has no case to make, but to me this is the most worrisome thing about the whole unpleasant business; it is harassment, pure and simple.
In other words, state power is being used to harass persons and organizations with whom those who wield it have political disagreements.
Whatever one's stance toward / relationship with the Church, and however one feels about the issues raised in, e.g., 1138 and 899, such behavior is unacceptable.
It is use of state power that is either stupid, or corrupt.