March 14, 2011 — Georgia’s ethics reformers have a bill to push, but they’ll be pushing uphill if they want to restrict politicians giving large sums to each other, a practice sometimes described as “empire-building.” A case in point? Three top Senate Republicans, as they maneuvered to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle last year of some of his power, donated $45,000 to 12 Senate freshmen. Caucus Chair Bill Cowsert said the contributions were part of his obligation as a party leader, not an effort to sway votes.
March 7, 2011 — Beginning today, lobbying takes on a whole new meaning in Georgia. In essence, anyone who’s seeking to influence legislation now must file papers as a lobbyist if they’re being paid while doing so. That includes corporate executives or school teachers visiting the Capitol, or witnesses at legislative hearings. Patrick Millsaps, chairman of the State Campaign Finance Commission, warned: “I think we are coming dangerously close to putting up barriers to prevent people from petitioning their government.”
Business executives pushing a bill in the Legislature would still have to register as lobbyists even if they’re not expressly paid to do so, under a proposed opinion from the State Campaign Finance Commission. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce had asked the commission for an exemption — a position that would allow business persons to buy meals, tickets or other gifts for public officials without disclosing them.
Joe Frank Harris served on the boards of both AFLAC and the state University System while the two were negotiating to let the insurer sell policies on campus. Lasa Joiner lobbied for health care interests while chairing the state Board of Human Resources. And Kenneth Cronan, while sitting on a board regulating auto parts dealers, […]
Gail Buckner, serving her first term in the state Senate after eight terms in the House, reported income of $23,450 for 2009. That’s about the same as she reported when she ran for secretary of state four years ago. Legislators are paid $17,342 per year plus per diem. The Jonesboro Democrat’s financial disclosure for 2009, […]