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Ethics reform for dummies, Part 2: Campaign finance

March 28, 2013 --

March 28, 2013 — Sen. Jeff Mullis wants to level the playing field regarding campaign fund-raising for legislative races (because incumbents are at such a disadvantage). A worthy goal, but I’d do it a little differently. Five ideas to improve Georgia’s campaign finance laws:

1) Bar incumbent legislators from accepting political contributions if they don’t draw opposition at qualifying time.

$170K in ALEC junkets untouched by gift cap

$170K in ALEC junkets untouched by gift cap
March 22, 2013 --

March 22, 2013 — Under the ethics bill and $100 gift cap that Georgia senators will debate today, lawmakers could continue accepting tens of thousands of dollars a year in travel expenses from corporate interests. Not only would the bill let them keep traveling to posh resorts on special interests’ tab, you often won’t even know about it. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council makes these jaunts possible. Big business and trade associations give the money to “scholarship funds” controlled by ALEC, which doles the cash out to legislators attending ALEC events.

Playing the odds: The rise of Sen. Chip Rogers

Playing the odds: The rise of Sen. Chip Rogers
December 4, 2012 --

Dec. 5, 2012 — Sen. Chip Rogers resigned Tuesday, a month after winning re-election, to take a job at Georgia Public Broadcasting. For those curious about what might have led to his decision — or those just looking for a fascinating read — we re-present our exclusive May 25 report about Rogers’ prior broadcasting experience:

Years before Chip Rogers became majority leader in the Georgia Senate, the Woodstock Republican was “Will ‘The Winner’” Rogers, advising callers for a fee how to bet against the pointspread on pro and college football. Once billed as one of the nation’s “premier handicappers,” Rogers says today he was nothing more than on-air “talent” reading a script for a client. Our nine-month investigation – a collaboration with The News Enterprise, a student reporting initiative of Emory College’s Journalism Program – reveals how Rogers got started in the industry and how he met the veteran handicapper who would take a $2.2 million eyesore off his hands two decades later.

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment
October 1, 2012 --

Oct. 1, 2012 — Sen. Jack Murphy collected $5,000 in May from his legislative expense account for a constituent newsletter that his campaign paid for, state records show. Murphy, who signed a sworn statement that he had paid for the newsletter personally, said the mix-up was inadvertent and that he has repaid his campaign account in full. An ethics watchdog says questions about this and other recently disclosed Senate expense reimbursements underscore a need for more scrutiny. “Senate leadership should come up with a plan to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen,” said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.

Lawyer: Rogers’ reimbursement OK, but he repays campaign anyway

September 26, 2012 --

Sept. 26, 2012 — Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has reimbursed his campaign $8,500 even though his lawyer says he didn’t have to. The payment covers money that Rogers collected from his Senate expense account for costs paid by his campaign committee. Attorney Doug Chalmers said Rogers has loaned the campaign much more than that, but he cut the check “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Did Senate reimburse majority leader for $8K paid by campaign?

Did Senate reimburse majority leader for $8K paid by campaign?
September 19, 2012 --

Sept. 19, 2012 — Georgia taxpayers reimbursed Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers this year for $6,688 in expenses that appear to have been paid by his re-election committee. The Legislature also reimbursed him in 2003 and 2005 for $1,471 that his campaign had apparently paid. In each case, Rogers submitted a sworn statement that he had personally incurred those expenses. Senate expense accounts, at least until recently, have not been audited. UPDATE: Chip Rogers has since reimbursed his campaign $8,500 “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” even though the expenses were legitimate, his attorney says.

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.

Was Chip ‘Will the Winner’? Or wasn’t he?

Was Chip 'Will the Winner'? Or wasn't he?
July 26, 2012 --

July 26, 2012 — “Will The Winner” and “Will Rogers” were just characters, Sen. Chip Rogers has said, created by a client who hired him to perform as a sports handicapper under both names. But newly obtained records show Rogers used those monikers in a manner that was unrelated to any role that he may have played on TV.

Rogers played larger role in pitching casino, handicappers

Rogers played larger role in pitching casino, handicappers
July 26, 2012 --

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, while serving as a freshman legislator, regularly oversaw production of promotional mailings that advertised over-the-phone sports handicapping services and an offshore casino, Atlanta Unfiltered has learned. Two Atlanta-area printing companies worked closely with Rogers between 1998 and 2004 to produce the promotional booklets, called Schedules USA, according to a former employee and former owner. Previously, Rogers has said his role in the handicapping industry was limited to voice and television work reading scripted promotions.

Simons lobbies lawmakers, raises $$$ for them, too

Simons lobbies lawmakers, raises $$$ for them, too
July 20, 2010 --

Lobbyists, more than anything else, sell access to politicians. Political fund-raisers sell candidates on their ability to generate boodles of campaign cash, frequently from donors that want, well, access to politicians. Put the two jobs together, and you get Dave Simons.