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Rep. Miriam Paris

Rep. Miriam Paris
May 9, 2014 --

Paris hadn’t filed her 2013 disclosure of her personal finances, due six weeks earlier, when we talked last week. “I have not done it yet, but it will be done,” she said. “We’ve just been running a race, and it keeps slipping off the radar.”

Her most recent personal disclosure, filed in 2012, omitted her membership on two non-profit boards — the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce and NewTown Macon Inc.

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Ethics panel revisits Deal case today

November 13, 2013 --

Nov. 13, 2013 — Today, Georgia’s beleaguered Campaign Finance Commission decides just how badly it wants to learn about itself and its 2012 ethics settlement with Gov. Nathan Deal. On the table when the commission meets at 9:30 a.m.: A motion to formally ask State Auditor Greg Griffin to conduct a performance audit of the agency. Then the question will be: Should the commission do more to address allegations that Deal’s office dictated the outcome of an investigation into his 2010 campaign finances? “I’m certainly not taking anything off the table,” chair Kevin Abernethy said.

State auditor, not Olens, to review Deal investigation

State auditor, not Olens, to review Deal investigation
October 22, 2013 --

Oct. 22, 2013 — State Auditor Greg Griffin, rather than the attorney general’s office, will try to sort out charges that a 2012 ethics investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal was compromised. Griffin agreed to investigate allegations that the director of the state ethics commission, after talks with key staffers in Deal’s office, ordered the case closed with a minimal penalty. The commission, which announced Griffin’s role late today, had voted last month to ask Attorney General Sam Olens to name a special assistant to review its handling of the case.

Olens, as it happened, had been mentioned as one possible factor in Deal’s resolve to settle the case in 2012 rather than let it reach a public hearing. A commission attorney has testified she was told that the governor didn’t want Olens, a potential rival in the 2014 governor’s race, to play any role in the proceedings.

Ralston’s legal stance could gut ethics panel’s powers

Ralston's legal stance could gut ethics panel's powers
October 8, 2013 --

Oct. 8, 2013 — Georgia lawmakers touted their 2013 ethics bill as historic, noting that they’d restored rule-making authority to the Campaign Finance Commission. Now, though, House Speaker David Ralston’s lawyer, Doug Chalmers, contends the commission can’t enforce a key disclosure rule on campaign spending. That interpretation, if it prevails, could muzzle the watchdog charged with policing campaign finance and disclosure in Georgia. Politicians could obscure details of countless dollars in campaign spending simply by using a personal credit card and getting reimbursed with campaign funds.

Real estate, contractors top TSPLOST’s $8M donor list

Real estate, contractors top TSPLOST's $8M donor list
July 24, 2012 --

(Updated July 26, 2012 with another $2 million in donations) Advocates promoting the “Untie Atlanta” campaign for a transportation sales tax have raised nearly $6 million, topped by donations from real estate interests and highway contractors, newly released disclosures show. Four of the top six cash donors — the National Association of Realtors, the Georgia Highway Contractors Association, heavy equipment suppliers Yancey Brothers Co. and C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. — kicked in $981,000 among them.

Whistleblower: Ex-ethics deputy denied interview for new job

Whistleblower: Ex-ethics deputy denied interview for new job
June 14, 2012 --

By JIM WALLS Sherry Streicker was told her job at the state ethics commission went away last year because of budget issues, not her performance. But when a new position opened there with nearly identical duties, she says in a new whistleblower suit, she couldn’t even get in the door for an interview. Streicker and […]

Lobbyists, candidates get little reprieve from $3.5M in late fees

April 11, 2012 --

April 11, 2012 — Dozens of Georgia lobbyists and political candidates may get relief from fines assessed for filing their financial disclosures late. Thousands more, the state Campaign Finance Commission decided today, will get no such reprieve.

Complaint against Deal, ethics chair dismissed

April 6, 2012 --

By JIM WALLS State officials, based on an opinion of the attorney general, have dismissed a complaint challenging former chairman Patrick Millsaps’ service on the state Campaign Finance Commission. Millsaps – reappointed after completing his term by Gov. Nathan Deal last year– headed the commission last spring when it slashed its top administrator’s pay by […]

Did automated audits replace Georgia’s ethics auditors? Nope.

Did automated audits replace Georgia's ethics auditors? Nope.
March 28, 2012 --

Former state ethics official Rick Thompson says Georgia doesn’t need all the auditors and investigators it once had because auditing of politicians’ financial disclosures is now automated. This would seem to refute some of my recent findings about weak ethics enforcement in Georgia.

Except, of course, that it’s not true.

Councilman stung by ethics fine pushes oversight of ethics officer

Councilman stung by ethics fine pushes oversight of ethics officer
March 14, 2012 --

An Atlanta city councilman who tangled with the city’s ethics officer last year wants to place that job under the council’s control. Lamar Willis‘ proposal calls for the Board of Ethics to give the council three names to consider, rather than just one, to fill a vacancy pending since September. Ethics advocates fear the plan would politicize the appointment process and jeopardize the board’s independence. Former ethics officer Ginny Looney won settlements against Willis and five other council members since 2008. Willis said his proposal has nothing to do with his $3,500 ethics fine nor his complaint that the board’s case against him was “piling on” and not even “remotely necessary.”

Henry Co. lawmaker fined $300 for non-disclosures

Henry Co. lawmaker fined $300 for non-disclosures
February 29, 2012 --

Rep. Steve Davis has agreed to pay a $300 fine for failing to include two businesses on his state-mandated financial disclosure.

Lawmakers to ethics panel: We don’t need no stinkin’ late fees

December 14, 2011 --

Dec. 14, 2011 — Remember the Georgia Legislature’s promise last year to impose tough new penalties for violators of campaign finance laws? Not gonna happen — at least not yet.

Starting this year, candidates could be fined $1,375 for filing a financial disclosure 45 days late. But legislators didn’t provide the money to pay for late notices, so the maximum fine for now is just $125.