DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton failed to disclose more than $101,000 in contributions to her campaigns in 2006 and 2008. For that, she agreed Friday to pay a $2,500 fine. Then-state Rep. Stan Watson, a fellow commissioner, also agreed to a $1,500 fine Friday for raising campaign money while the state Legislature was in session.
Everyone should make resolutions for the New Year, if only to have new goals. In that spirit, we offer 10 suggestions for Georgia legislators to strengthen government ethics in 2011. Among them: Let’s make ex-Speaker Glenn Richardson the last legislator to transfer all his leftover campaign cash to a committee where he can spend it any way he wishes.
A combative Eugene Walker on Monday talked the DeKalb County school board into holding off on discussing a proposed ethics code for board members. State Rep. Kevin Levitas last month proposed a state law giving the DeKalb board “a clear set of principles” to follow. Walker, who resigned as chairman of the DeKalb Development Authority this year after controversy over his role there, said Levitas’ proosal “offended” him. “We oughta throw it in the trash,” he said. “I don’t want to hear anything about it.”
Gov. Sonny Perdue took office in 2003 vowing to push “comprehensive ethics reform” and reverse 140 years of entrenched, Democrat-controlled good-old-boy cronyism. Now, as the governor’s final year in office approaches, a legislative smackdown suggest tougher ethics enforcement is an idea whose time has yet to come: The State Ethics Commission was stripped of its rule-making authority, took a 30 percent budget cut and lost a bid for tougher penalties for candidates who file financial reports late, or not at all. Now, executive secretary Rick Thompson is stepping down. He says it’s time to go. “I just believe in my own life it’s time to move on,” he said.
Gene Walker has resigned as chairman of the DeKalb County Development Authority, two months after an uproar over his dual role as a member of the authority and the DeKalb Board of Education. Walker stepped down just days after the authority released a draft of guidelines for issuing property tax breaks as incentives for new development in DeKalb. The guidelines give the DeKalb County Commission a seat at the table, but make no mention of the Board of Education.
Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., facing a possible five-figure fine for breaking election finance laws in 2002, filed campaign finance reports with similar discrepancies in 2008, state records show. McDonald last week admitted dozens of violations in reporting the finances for his 2002 campaign. He blamed the mistakes on his campaign staff […]