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.
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.
This week was a bit slower for Georgia legislators who missed the deadline to file mandatory financial disclosure statements. Six more lawmakers — including Calvin Smyre, chairman of the House minority caucus — bit the bullet and turned in paperwork that, by law, was supposed to have been filed a month ago. That leaves six state senators and 14 members of the House who still haven’t made the disclosures.