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  • Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite

    October 5, 2011 --

    Documents obtained by ProPublica suggest the government coddled mortgage servicers in its flagship foreclosure prevention program despite frequent and serious errors.

    Lobbyists named as finalists for top job at campaign finance panel

    Lobbyists named as finalists for top job at campaign finance panel
    August 10, 2011 --

    Two lobbyists are finalists for the top job at the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission, the panel said today. The nominees for executive secretary are: Holly LaBerge, director of government relations for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, and Jerry Presley, a career public servant who lobbied for the Council for Quality Growth in 2008.

    Ethics panel braces for suit over failing to enforce law

    Ethics panel braces for suit over failing to enforce law
    May 4, 2011 --

    Washington avoided a government shutdown last month, but ethics enforcers in Georgia soon will face the prospect of shutting down their key function — enforcing ethics laws. In fact, members of the State Campaign Finance Commission are already planning their legal defense in case someone sues them for failing to do their job.

    Deal on CREW’s ‘most embarrassing’ list for 2010

    Deal on CREW's 'most embarrassing' list for 2010
    December 16, 2010 --

    Gov.-elect Nathan Deal left Congress this year but still made the list of 2010’s “most embarrassing re-elects” compiled by a Washington advocacy group. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed the 2009 complaint that led to a congressional ethics investigation of Deal, described him as a “new governor to watch” in a just-released report.

    ‘Transparency’: Lawmaker’s $40K consulting deal undisclosed

    'Transparency': Lawmaker's $40K consulting deal undisclosed
    November 15, 2010 --

    A powerful Cobb County legislator collected $40,000 last year to do research to help an advocacy group decide the best way to ask the Legislature for money. Rep. Earl Ehrhart and his client, Friends of Arts & Culture, say he did not help to write a bill that would have allowed local votes on arts funding, nor did he help move it through the Legislature. “I never consult on any type of legislation that’s going on here,” he said. Ehrhart did not disclose his client or his fee, which state law does not require. Nor did he disclose the name of his consulting business, which the law does require. This is what passes for transparency in the Georgia Legislature. UPDATE: An ethics complaint regarding this transaction was filed this week with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.

    Profiles in courage: Funder of attack ads wants secrecy for donors

    Profiles in courage: Funder of attack ads wants secrecy for donors
    November 8, 2010 --

    An advocacy group that spent $152,000 to help dump Georgia Congressman Jim Marshall wants to keep the identity of its donors secret. But it can’t, at least when it tries to influence state and local campaigns, under a draft opinion under review by the State Ethics Commission. The Center for Individual Freedom, led by CEO Jeffrey L. Mazzella, asked in August whether it could avoid disclosing donors for its political ads.

    Ethics panel slaps ex-speaker’s wrist, waffles on some donation limits

    Ethics panel slaps ex-speaker's wrist, waffles on some donation limits
    August 17, 2010 --

    Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson must pay a $500 fine, but his political fund may keep $219,915 that was transferred improperly from his campaign account last year, the State Ethics Commission ruled today. The panel also dismissed a separate case, ruling that state law may place no limits on campaign contributions from one candidate to another.

    Lobbyists treat lawmakers’ spouses, don’t always report it

    Lobbyists treat lawmakers' spouses, don't always report it
    July 5, 2010 --

    Each year, lobbyists organize and pay for lunches at hot spots like The 191 Club, day trips and other events – some costing thousands of dollars — to entertain the spouses of Georgia legislators. No one knows the total price tag. Or, at least, the ones who know aren’t always saying.

    Ralston on ethics: ‘Campaign finance was not part of that problem’

    Ralston on ethics: 'Campaign finance was not part of that problem'
    April 5, 2010 --

    If House Speaker David Ralston’s ethics bill passes as written, Sen. Don Balfour and friends will have 562,000 reasons to thank him. Balfour, who’s said he won’t seek re-election, started 2010 with that many greenbacks in his campaign account. Georgia politicians such as Balfour would have been severely restricted in spending leftover campaign cash under a bill with broad bipartisan support. Now that proposal is all but dead, swept aside by Ralston’s substitute ethics bill.

    Common Cause: Ethics bill includes junket protection, gadfly intimidation

    Common Cause: Ethics bill includes junket protection, gadfly intimidation
    March 31, 2010 --

    Call it the 2010 Georgia Junket Protection Act. Ethics legislation pushed by House Speaker David Ralston would exempt lobbyists from having to disclose what they spend to fly, feed and house lawmakers attending their annual conventions, which often seem to be held in warm, sunny climes near a large body of water. In this way and several others, Common Cause Georgia says, the state’s ethics laws are about to take several giant steps backward.

    Inconsistencies surface in feds’ accounts of detainee’s death

    Inconsistencies surface in feds' accounts of detainee's death
    March 12, 2010 --

    A federal detainee who died in Georgia last year of a treatable heart infection had suffered chest pains for the previous three days, contradicting officials’ prior account of the man’s death, an advocacy group said Thursday.

    Common Cause posts campaign disclosures missing from ATL Web site

    August 12, 2009 --

    (UPDATE: Atlanta’s municipal clerk has posted PDF files of 2009 campaign disclosure reports for mayor and council candidates here.)

    Four years ago, Atlanta city government did a nice job making campaign disclosure reports available online for candidates for mayor and City Council. In 2009, a tight budget apparently will keep the city from posting details on the millions of dollars raised by Atlanta candidates. So Common Cause of Georgia, the good-government advocacy group, is filling the gap with its Moneywatch site. You can search for yourself to see where the special interests, elected officials and aides to former Mayor Bill Campbell are lining up in 2009. (What? You thought I was going to do it for you? Maybe a little later.)