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  • State can’t explain ‘unexplained’ purchase by ethics agency

    March 21, 2012 --

    Tying Up Loose Ends: The Georgia Secretary of State has no record of an allegedly “unexplained” purchase for $4,965 that was said to suggest financial mismanagement at the state ethics commission. Without documentation, we may never know what that purchase was for, or whether it really happened. Here’s why …

    Supremes: State ethics code not for school boards

    March 19, 2012 --

    Georgia’s Code of Ethics does not apply to members of local school boards, the Supreme Court of Georgia said today in a unanimous decision. The high court ruled that former Gov. Sonny Perdue had no authority in August 2010 to remove three members of the Warren County Board of Education for alleged misconduct.

    Councilman’s plan runs off 1st choice for ATL ethics officer

    Councilman's plan runs off 1st choice for ATL ethics officer
    March 19, 2012 --

    Atlanta’s Board of Ethics, which has operated for six months without an ethics officer, will have to make do a bit longer. Stacey Kalberman, the board’s unanimous choice for the job, withdrew Sunday as the City Council pondered whether to choose the ethics officer itself. “I frankly became disheartened when that happened,” Kalberman said.

    Don’t kill the messenger — just fix it

    Don't kill the messenger -- just fix it
    March 19, 2012 --

    Georgians can no longer fall back on “Thank god for Alabama!” We  trail the pack in a 50-state survey of government accountability laws and practices. Detractors, predictably, complain that bottom-of-the-barrel ranking is unfair and accuse me — the project’s Georgia reporter — of bias. As Sophocles observed 2,450 years ago, “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”

    Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard

    Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard
    March 19, 2012 --

    Georgia law books are chock-full of statutes written to curtail undue influence on political activity and public policy. So utilities and insurance companies can’t give to a candidate seeking an office that regulates them. Legislators can’t take political donations while in session. Politicians can’t use campaign money for personal benefit. State workers can’t accept gifts from vendors or lobbyists.

    Except when they can.

    Time and again, Georgia journalists and watchdog groups have found that money finds a way to flow around those laws. These and similar findings underscore what can sometimes be a gaping divide between Georgia’s legal standards for public accountability, on the one hand, and everyday practice. In a new, state-by-state analysis of ethics and accountability practices, Georgia ranks 50th with a grade of F from the State Integrity Investigation.