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New transparency rules: A little more, a little less

March 26, 2015 --

Georgia lawmakers made history, of a sort, two years ago when they imposed a $75 limit on the value of gifts that lobbyists may offer public officials.

But the devil’s in the details, and it’s never been clear exactly how the limit would be enforced. Now, the state ethics commission is considering an interpretation so broad that it would allow gifts of $1,000 or more in some circumstances.

Graves, Rogers on hook for $1.5M after sale of ‘Meth 6’ motel

Graves, Rogers on hook for $1.5M after sale of 'Meth 6' motel
September 5, 2012 --

CALHOUN, Sept. 5, 2012 — The notorious “Meth 6” motel here has sold in foreclosure for pennies on the dollar, potentially clearing the way for lenders to pursue two Georgia lawmakers for a defaulted loan. On Aug. 16, after the abandoned motel brought $370,000, a Gordon County judge signed an order allowing a bank to seek payment on the rest of a $1.88 million debt from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and Sen. Chip Rogers. Graves says the order is merely a formality.

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.

Jan. 24

January 24, 2012 --

Clayton Co. school board dismisses porn charges against member Recorded evidence against indicted ex-sheriff released Cobb board member denies charter school conflict Former environmental head joins firm that lobbies for reservoirs Georgia lawmakers call for 3rd-party water testing on Ogeechee

Critics: Deal’s veto distorts high court’s ruling on campaign finance

Critics: Deal's veto distorts high court's ruling on campaign finance
May 20, 2011 --

Gov. Nathan Deal misinterpreted a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision this week when he vetoed a bill that would have banned anonymous campaign ads. So says Common Cause, the good-government advocacy group. Deal’s office said he wanted to err on the side of free speech, particularly in light of the bill’s criminal penalty.

Should lobbyists disclose $$$ spent on public officials’ families?

Should lobbyists disclose $$$ spent on public officials' families?
April 5, 2011 --

House Speaker David Ralston and other lawmakers learn today whether lobbyists’ spending on gifts for officials’ spouses and families must be disclosed publicly, when the State Campaign Finance Commission considers an advisory opinion on that point. An attorney close to the speaker requested the opinion Feb. 11, just a few days after a complaint was filed over a $17,280 trip to Europe for Ralston, his chief of staff and their families. A lobbyist promoting high-speed rail paid for the jaunt.

Legislators reduce transparency, burden ethics commission

March 15, 2011 --

Georgia lawmakers Monday gave voters less access to information on local candidates’ finances, reversing part of a 2010 reform bill that became law just two months ago. The legislators’ action could also cost the cash-strapped Campaign Finance Commission $130,000 — which it doesn’t have — to notify candidates of possible violations. If the commission can’t afford to send those notices, it can’t enforce the law.

Dec. 27

December 27, 2010 --

Georgia lawmakers face new ethics rules Common Cause’s Bill Bozarth to retire

Ethics board gains work; staffing stays the same

June 14, 2010 --

Four powerful Georgia lawmakers each reported getting a $2,300 campaign donation from one of Georgia’s largest title-pawn lenders in 2008, but the donor never disclosed giving the money. The lender disclosed a $2,300 donation to then-state Rep. Stan Watson – but the lawmaker never reported getting it. For that matter, Watson never disclosed what happened with $45,000 from his […]

Scrutiny, economy limit 2010 lobbyist spending

June 1, 2010 --

If your local legislator looks like a winner from “The Biggest Loser,” there’s good reason: He has definitely been off his feed. Even though the 2010 session lasted nearly a month longer than last year, lobbyist reports show they plunked down 15 percent less than the $981,000 they spent on wining, dining and entertaining Georgia lawmakers in 2009.

Departing lawmakers have $1.3M in campaign cash to burn

May 5, 2010 --

Thanks to House Speaker David Ralston, departing Georgia lawmakers have $1.3 million in campaign cash to distribute as they see fit this year — to political parties, PACs and other candidates. House Bill 920, if it had passed, would have required that those lawmakers pass the money on to charity, or return it to the original donors. Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill last week to allow citizens to donate money to the state treasury. Wonder how many of them will follow through on that?

Ga.’s ethics reform: Look a little closer at the fine print

May 3, 2010 --

Georgia lawmakers hail their 2010 ethics bill as a much-needed reform that toughens ethics fines and shines a brighter light on money flowing from campaign donors and lobbyists. But it always helps to read the fine print. The bill’s “reforms” including raising fines that are rarely imposed and fees that are never collected. Two sentences on local candidates’ disclosure directly contradict each other. Take a closer look at the winners and losers in this year’s bill…