An ethics complaint could cost Sen. Ralph Hudgens much of his fund-raising edge in the race for Georgia insurance commissioner. Last month, Hudgens shifted $106,000 from his Senate re-election race to his campaign for the insurance job. The State Ethics Commission declared in a 2008 advisory opinion that candidates can’t do it that way, but Hudgens reportedly doesn’t plan to return the money.
Twenty-one Georgia legislators accepted gifts valued at $5,000 or more from lobbyists last year. Led by Senate majority leader Chip Rogers, the 21 legislators accounted for 10 percent of the $1.5 million in lobbyist handouts last year. We’re talking gift baskets, food and drink, golf, sports and concert tickets, lodging and airfare. These are the lawmakers who can’t say no.
Which lobbyists would be hit hardest by a proposed ban on $100-plus gifts to Georgia legislators? Hint: Lobbyist Dene Herbert Sheheane and the others hand out a lot of tickets to ballgames.
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson‘s political fund, enriched last week with nearly $220,000 from a separate campaign account, can legally spend the money almost any way it wishes. “He could spend it on anything he wants to,” said Rick Thompson, former executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission. “If he wanted to pay his rent or buy an automobile through the MMV PAC fund, there’s no restrictions on what he can do … under the Ethics in Government Act.”
Better late than never: Four Georgia legislators, including Rep. Sheila Jones of Atlanta, filed personal financial disclosures last week for 2008. Some, we’re told, even mentioned Atlanta Unfiltered when they made sure the state received their reports. That leaves 10 Democrats who still haven’t filed. UP NEXT: We’ll take a closer look at where the money’s flowing in the Legislature, and to whom. One hint: It ain’t to the Democrats.
A dozen Georgia legislators still haven’t filed financial disclosure statements for 2008 as required by state law, according to State Ethics Commission records. Four of them, including Rep. Roger Bruce of Atlanta, haven’t filed disclosures for 2007 either. As a practical matter, there’s not much of a penalty for failing to file a disclosure statement. The Ethics Commission routinely assesses a late fee of $75, but makes little effort to collect it.
Candidates for the Georgia Legislature must disclose certain info about their personal finances within 15 days of qualifying for office. Apparently, no one explained that to Ron Dodson or Donzella James. Disclosure forms ask for basic information about a candidate’s job, business and real estate holdings and those of their spouses. The general idea is that voters can find out whether a politician’s public and private interests conflict. Legislators this year delined to raise the penalty for not filing, which remains at 75 bucks.
The State Ethics Commission voted today to reopen applications for its top administrative job and to interview three finalists at its Dec. 16 meeting. The commission interviewed three candidates last week but decided to solicit more applicants for the post. “We uniformly thought they were of very high quality,” commission member William Jordan said, “but there were none right now that we were ready to extend an offer to.”
Former House Speaker Terry Coleman and 10 current and former lawmakers closed ethics complaints today with the payment of a fine and a promise not to do it again. Coleman agreed to a $2,900 fine for making more than $38,000 in mortgage payments on a condominium that his business was purchasing. The panel also fined Congressman David Scott for failing to report the status of $83,000 left over in his state Senate campaign accounts since 2002.
The Federal Election Commission has issued a “no reason to believe” decision in a complaint against U.S. Rep. David Scott, political blogger Andre Walker and Scott’s campaign treasurer, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. The complaint, filed in March, charges Walker blogged favorably about Scott’s re-election campaign without disclosing $2,950 in payments from the campaign. The FEC’s general counsel accepted Scott’s explanation that the money was for maintaining the campaign Web site and no other purpose.
The State Ethics Commission has named three finalists for its top administrative job: Cassandra Lawson, employee relations manager with the state Department of Juvenile Justice; John Truslow, associate director for the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University’s business school; and David Von, executive vice president of HomeCoast Capital LLC. Read the news release …
Sonny Perdue on Thursday named former U.S. attorney Kent Alexander, now general counsel at Emory University, to one of five seats on the State Ethics Commission. Alexander’s appointment gives the commission a full membership as it prepares to name a new executive secretary to replace Rick Thompson, who steps down in a few weeks. The commission expects to interview finalists for the job at its Oct. 15 meeting.
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This page covers financial disclosures by public officials -- including personal finances, campaign accounts and business transactions with public agencies.