I am not looking for a conclusion or an answer, because you have just started your mandate. But I am interested in your vision and your understanding of things.
I am following the lead of my colleague Mr. Baylis when he says that the essential problem is the influence rather than the amount of money. Each individual, each elected official, has a different network. Depending on people's professional situations, an amount of $200 can be good or not, high or not. In some settings, a five-hundred-dollar meal may be much more usual than in others. I am not talking about a recent case in which someone gave $300,000 to a very dear friend. However, the reality and the amounts can vary from one person to another. One individual might expect to have more influence by giving $300 than another professional network where amounts of $500 or $1,000 are, if I may say so without sounding arrogant, small change.
Who is to judge if there is any influence, if someone is accustomed to moving and talking in those kinds of professional circles? Goodness knows, people like that make no bones about criticizing, making comments and proposals, working and influencing, whether or not any gifts are involved, monetary or otherwise. As things stand, simply being part of a network can put you in a situation where you will be on the receiving end of what I would call “strong recommendations” at very least.