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.
Enforcers of Georgia’s ethics laws are stuck in limbo, if not outright paralysis — a legacy of the Glenn Richardson years at the state Legislature. They’re wondering whether new leadership under the Gold Dome cares enough to set things right. In 2009, on Richardson’s watch, the Georgia House pushed through language stripping the State Ethics Commission of its rule-making power. Now the panel needs to adopt new rules to carry out subsequent legislative changes to ethics laws. But, says executive secretary Stacey Kalberman said, “It appears that we don’t have authority to do anything.”
Attorney General Thurbert Baker has been asked to opine on whether political campaigns may make unlimited financial contributions to other campaigns. A decision by the State Ethics Commission last week raised the possibility that unopposed candidates with fat campaign accounts could give unlimited amounts to candidates in close races, creating a legal path to circumvent contribution limits.
Most major candidates for governor back a limit on lobbyists’ gifts to legislators and on inter-campaign cash transfers, a new survey shows. Both measures drew support from leading candidates except for Thurbert Baker and John Oxendine, who have not yet responded to the survey. “It looks like from this list here … that the new governor will be somebody who stands behind these reforms,” Common Cause director Bill Bozarth said.
In 2003, Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett accepted three $10,000 campaign contributions – far exceeding the legal limit — from donors in Florida. Each had received loans from a $2 million investment of public funds by Barrett. A broker who steered the investment, and the chief deputy who took $10,000 from him, both went to federal prison. But Barrett still awaits the outcome of a 6-year-old ethics investigation. In 2008, dozens of disputed ethics cases like Barrett’s were backed up. Today, officials say, the backlog is almost cleared up.
North Carolina’s Roy Cooper joined Georgia’s Thurbert Baker today as two of the few attorneys general who’ve chosen not to sue the feds over Obamacare. Cooper said Congress probably acted within its authority in enacting health care legislation. He noted several benefits of the new law and said the courts are the wrong place to decide health care policy.
Thurbert Baker collects campaign cash during session Did Leah Sears polish her Wikipedia entry? Gwinnett police audit found extra money Columbus State U. president faces confidence vote from faculty
Earl Mahfuz, the Georgia DOT’s top numbers guy until state investigators found evidence of financial shenanigans, has retired effective today. Mahfuz has been at the center of an accounting controversy in which DOT employed practices described by Gov. Sonny Perdue as “Enron accounting.”
On the eve of the 2001 Atlanta mayoral election, candidate Robb Pitts’ campaign bounced a $45,000 check. Several campaign officials made loans to cover the check in amounts far exceeding limits on political contributions. Pitts, now a Fulton County commissioner, may be about to settle ethics charges stemming from the loans. But will he have to pay back the money?
One weekend in April, John Oxendine‘s campaign worked local Republicans hard as activists met in each congressional district. The payoff: Oxendine won straw polls at several district conventions as the GOP choice for governor in 2010. In cozying up to party activists, campaign records show, the candidate gave $11,885 to local Republican groups on April 10-19, right around the April 18 conventions. The checks, though, did not originate with his campaign for governor. They came from the $480,000 bankroll he amassed to run for re-election as insurance commissioner. ALSO OF NOTE: A few weeks earlier, Secretary of State Karen Handel paid $10,000 from her re-election campaign fund to a company run by the new spokesman for her gubernatorial campaign.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker ruled today that Georgia’s utility-regulating agency acted illegally last month when it chose a new chairman. Baker ruled that state law establishing the process for choosing a chairman is constitutional and the commission did not have the authority to rule otherwise. The PSC now must decide whether to abide by the […]
Fulton County elections officials mishandled thousands of absentee ballot applications last fall and failed to secure voting equipment at several precincts, state investigators say. The State Elections Board voted Tuesday to forward the findings to Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s office, which has opened a case file on the incidents outlined in the investigative report. That […]