PAY TO PLAY….Jim Battin is a California state senator who sits on the committee that oversees gambling issues. He is also the owner of a private consulting group and has recently begun soliciting business from Indian tribes that operate casinos.

In other words, for all practical purposes he is now both a legislator and a lobbyist all rolled up in one. Does he have a problem with that? Apparently not:

“If I felt conflicted, I would abstain,” Battin said. “I’m not interested in crossing the line.”

Honestly, my guess is that corruption and conflict of interest is no worse now than it’s ever been, but what’s different is that nobody even pretends to be ashamed of it anymore. After all, regardless of the legality of all this, don’t you think Battin would at least try to hide what he’s doing? You know, put the consulting firm in his wife’s name, or create a shell corporation that made it hard to track down? Or something?

But no. He doesn’t even seem to care. It gives “pay to play” a whole new meaning.