Officials Deny Decisions Influenced By Golf Freebies

By: Rob Harris

This week brings yet another claim of improper influence buying, with golf as the currency of choice. According to a published report, the trash hauler for Costa Mesa, California treated certain board members of the Costa Mesa Sanitation District to golf outings. The report indicates the recipients of the largesse were those members who are fighting efforts to open the company’s contract to competitive bidding.

The golf benefits here were particularly minor–no boondoggles to Pebble Beach–with none of them exceeding $500 or the legal limit for such contributions. Unsurprisingly, the board members dismiss the suggestion that they could be bought for such amounts. The report also acknowledges that the town never has put a trash contract out to competitive bid.

While I don’t find the Costa Mesa story itself particularly compelling, I do find interesting the general questions of how quickly the public assumes that golf equates to nefariousness, and why officials so often accept the offer of a golf freebie, together with the target it paints on their backs. Thoughts, anyone?

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