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Selling Ads on Government Websites

July 21, 2009 at 11:36 am Matt

The Enquirer had a fascinating opinion column this morning. I missed this entire debate while the more pressing budget matters were going on:

In one important respect, Gov. Ted Strickland has more power than the president of the United States – the ability to remove specific items from big spending bills without vetoing the entire bill itself.

Strickland used his line-item veto power effectively in signing the state’s belated two-year, $50.5 billion budget Friday, deleting 61 provisions that he felt – and we largely agree – had no business in the budget.

Key among those was a proposed pilot program, slipped into the budget without any real debate, that would authorize Hamilton County commissioners to sell advertising on county Web sites. Strickland wisely vetoed that measure, saying it needed careful study and debate on its possible financial impact and “other ramifications.”

He’s right, especially about those “other ramifications.” As we noted last week, such a loosely regulated scheme could create conflicts of interest, influence peddling and outright corruption. It would make county government less accountable by giving it a new revenue stream outside the purview of taxpayers. And it would unfairly compete with private-sector firms that rely on advertising, including The Enquirer.

Is it gimmicky to for government to try to fund its bloated budgets by selling advertisements? Certainly. But is that any more of a gimmick than slot machines in race tracks, in lieu of tax reform, reforming public pension plans, and shrinking government?

One way around the supposedly problem of “influence peddling” would be using Google Adsense, which generates content based on the website’s text and can not be influenced by whatever nefarious interest the Enquirer is referring to.

But what about ads on physical government buildings and equipment? Perhaps a giant Pepsi ad on the Ohio State House, or a Krispy Kreme ad on police cars? They might be crude and un-stylish, but they certainly wouldn’t be harmful.

Related posts:

  1. Team Strickland Gets Caught Red Handed Selling Public Policy
  2. Strickland Plays Political Game, Threatens to Shut Down State Government
  3. Mike DeWine Wants to Sue The Federal Government Over Obamacare
  4. AG Rich Cordray Loves It When the Federal Government Forces You to Buy Healthcare
  5. Gov. Strickland Begs Federal Government for Enough Medicaid Dollars To Carry the State Through the Election

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