blow the whistle
$show the love

Speaker’s bill embraces scorned ethics opinion

Speaker's bill embraces scorned ethics opinion
January 31, 2013 --

Jan. 31, 2013 — Two years ago, legislative leaders squawked mightily at the notion that Georgians might have to register as lobbyists when they visit the Capitol. Today, some of those same leaders may embrace the very same position — and more — that they once deplored. A House subcommittee will consider Speaker David Ralston’s 2013 ethics package, which would make people pay $320 in lobbyist registration fees if they want to talk policy with legislators on behalf of any organization, whether it’s Georgia Power Co., the Tea Party or the Girl Scouts.

UPDATE: House members made it abundantly clear before today’s hearing that there’s no way that the final language of the ethics bill will abridge anyone’s First Amendment rights. No details yet, but it seems likely that the revised bill will try to exempt the average citizen who visits the Capitol only occasionally.

Ralston bill: Ban gifts, ID pre-session donors, empower ethics panel

Ralston bill: Ban gifts, ID pre-session donors, empower ethics panel
January 29, 2013 --

Jan. 29, 2013 — House Speaker David Ralston today called for banning most lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and, for the first time, requiring legislators to immediately disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions collected just before they convene each year. The speaker also introduced a bill to restore rule-making authority to the state ethics commission.

Secret ethics report: Ga. #3, not #50

Secret ethics report: Ga. #3, not #50
January 26, 2013 --

I am not making this up. The House Ethics Committee’s chairman says a privately commissioned study shows Georgia’s ethics laws are the third-best in the country, not the worst. This study will form the basis of an ethics bill that Joe Wilkinson says he’ll introduce soon. But he will not make the study public, won’t say who conducted it or how much it cost. “It’s mine,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a working document.”

Jan. 14-24, 2013

January 25, 2013 --

  TV producer quits to protest Public Broadcasting’s hiring of Chip Rogers How subparagraph (c) undercuts Senate ethics reform Public funds support scholarships at anti-gay private schools Ex-officers: APD had arrest quotas Georgia Tech police wanted spy drones at football games Fourth complaint filed challenging private probation practices Bibb schools bet big on Promise Neighborhood […]

Audit: ATL bought $125K in gift cards, but who got ’em?

Audit: ATL bought $125K in gift cards, but who got 'em?
January 17, 2013 --

Jan. 17, 2013 — Atlanta city officials bought at least $128,000 in gift cards since 2008 but can’t say exactly what they did with them, the city auditor has found.

Jan. 7-13, 2013

January 15, 2013 --

DeKalb investigation seeks evidence of bribery, racketeering Ex-coroner’s wife sends Chatham Co. $126K for ‘accounting discrepancies’ Donors not disclosed in annual Wild Hog event National Guard officer alleges helicopter misuse MARTA chief promises to address overtime Lawmakers’ last-minute fund-raisers Chair of Fulton elections board resigns Two men plead guilty in Albany bribery case

Balfour, Murphy lose key Senate chairs

Balfour, Murphy lose key Senate chairs
January 15, 2013 --

Jack Murphy lost his chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee on Monday, two years after the feds sued him for his alleged role in a quarter-billion-dollar bank failure. At least Murphy got a new committee — Regulated Industries — with something to do. Don Balfour, as expected, was also removed as chair of the powerful Rules committee after paying a $5,000 ethics fine. Now he’ll chair one of the least significant, at least until the 2020 Census — Reapportionment.

Top 3 PACs gave $1M to Ga. politicians

January 14, 2013 --

Jan. 14, 2013 — Trial lawyers, dentists and Realtors — perhaps Georgians’ three most-beloved professions — had the deepest pockets as state legislators convened today for 2013, an analysis of campaign disclosures shows. Between them, trade groups for those three professions donated more than $1.1 million to Georgia politicians and parties over the past two years.

Balfour lawyers up as GBI wraps $$$ probe

Balfour lawyers up as GBI wraps $$$ probe
January 10, 2013 --

Jan. 10, 2013 — The GBI has completed an investigation of state payments to soon-to-be-deposed Senate Rules chairman Don Balfour, but there’s no word yet as to its findings. Attorney General Sam Olens won’t say what the next step might be, if any. Balfour, meanwhile, appears to have retained Andersen, Tate & Carr, a Gwinnett County law firm that is defending ex-Gwinnett Commissioner Kevin Kenerly against bribery charges.

Dec. 31-Jan. 6, 2013

January 7, 2013 --

Despite millions spent, scope of human trafficking is unknown Ethics & the Legislature: Money, secrets, power rule Dome New Clayton Co. commission fires county manager, calls for forensic audits Clayton Co. DA accuses commission of violating Open Meetings Act Free tickets often requested by lawmakers GBI investigating Chatham Co. coroner’s expenses DeKalb Co. school board […]

Jerguson’s filings omit property

Jerguson's filings omit property
January 5, 2013 --

Financial disclosures filed by Senate candidate Sean Jerguson during his six years as a state representative listed ownership interests in several businesses but omitted more than $1 million worth of real estate that they own. Those properties include the site of his Cherokee County shooting range, which it bought from another of his businesses with the help of a federally-guaranteed loan, and a Cedartown mobile home park that is perpetually late paying its property taxes. (Many lawmakers list business properties on their annual disclosures, but others contend the law does not require them to do so. A 1998 attorney general’s opinion held that a candidate must disclose corporately owned real estate “if he has a legally enforceable right to use the land for his own personal enjoyment or profit.”)

Sen. Brandon Beach (SD 21): Campaign kept unused $$

Sen. Brandon Beach (SD 21): Campaign kept unused $$
January 5, 2013 --

When Senate candidate Brandon Beach ran for the Legislature in 2010, he raised $13,600 to be spent on the general election once he’d secured the Republican nomination. He didn’t make it that far, though, losing a close primary runoff. State law requires candidates to refund contributions raised for an election in which they’re not on the ballot. Beach’s campaign kept those donations, spending some and rolling the rest over to a 2012 race. State law may have allowed some of that money to be reallocated after the fact to cover 2010 primary or runoff expenses, but at least $8,400 could not be redesignated since it came from donors who had reached contribution limits for those races.