Report: Gingrey’s bank stock benefits may violate ethics law Unqualified ATL water workers costing you money Clayton Co. school board member disciplined for ‘misbehavior’ Debt collector fined $4.3M State board won’t remove ATL school board Legal advocate objects to student journalists’ arrests at Occupy ATL
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.
State senators this week agreed to give the State Campaign Finance Commission a fraction of the sum needed to meet new requirements for enforcing ethics laws. The Senate recommended a $30,000 bump for the agency’s certified mail expenses, rather than the requested $130,000, and none of the $290,000 sought for processing and posting thousands of local candidates’ financial disclosures online.
What, exactly, is a lobbyist? That’s the common thread in countless conversations around the Capitol these days. Full-time lobbyists are organizing a trade group so they can hang out more and project a more professional image to the public. And two other groups — smaller public-interest groups and business executives and sales representatives — say they’d rather not have to register as lobbyists, thank you very much.
House Speaker David Ralston, staff and family enjoyed a $17,000 working holiday last Thanksgiving. So much for the idea of a $100 gift cap. Or for transparency. Lobbyist Chris Brady, representing Commonwealth Research Associates LLC, picked up the tab for hotels and airfare. A few weeks later, Brady took Ralston and staff to a $403 dinner. Other than that, official disclosures tell us nothing.
Among the consequences of Georgia’s new ethics law: It will require more reporting by lobbyists and will probably thin out their herd, at least at the state level. It will relieve hundreds of the new governor’s appointees of the need to disclose even a smidgen about their personal finances. And, combined with budget problems, it will require the state ethics commission for the next several months to set aside one of its core missions, says its chairman, Patrick Millsaps.
Robb Pitts is off the hook for accepting $45,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2001, thanks to a Fulton County judge, Kimberly Adams, who ruled the statute of limitations had expired. Now lawyers are attempting to apply the judge’s ruling to other cases more than a year old. The AG’s office says the potential precedent could be devastating to enforcement of ethics laws in Georgia.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s office says the State Ethics Commission can’t do much with repealing old rules or creating new ones under 2009 amendment to state law. The commission can probably clean up language of existing rules, the AG’s office said, but not eliminate or create a rule. That may leave the commission unable to carry out 2010 amendments to ethics law.
Joe Frank Harris served on the boards of both AFLAC and the state University System while the two were negotiating to let the insurer sell policies on campus. Lasa Joiner lobbied for health care interests while chairing the state Board of Human Resources. And Kenneth Cronan, while sitting on a board regulating auto parts dealers, […]
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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.