The funds used to fly House Speaker David Ralston’s family to Europe last Thanksgiving were not taxpayers’ dollars — but, quite possibly, they used to be. Chris Brady, the lobbyist who paid for the $17,279 trip, is also a Georgia DOT subcontractor whose firm has pocketed at least $458,000 since 2007 as part of a team studying a possible high-speed Atlanta-to-Chattanooga transit line.
About 180 times last year, state disclosures show, a lobbyist gave House Speaker David Ralston something: A meal, a drink, a round of golf, a family trip to Europe. We know these lobbyists spent about $35,000 on the speaker in 2010. What we don’t know is much more significant: What did they want from him? Most lobbyists never answer that question, and Georgia doesn’t really make them.
House Speaker David Ralston, staff and family enjoyed a $17,000 working holiday last Thanksgiving. So much for the idea of a $100 gift cap. Or for transparency. Lobbyist Chris Brady, representing Commonwealth Research Associates LLC, picked up the tab for hotels and airfare. A few weeks later, Brady took Ralston and staff to a $403 dinner. Other than that, official disclosures tell us nothing.