Party caucuses in the Georgia Legislature are not exempt from limits on campaign spending, the State Campaign Finance Commission decided this week. The panel’s advisory opinion could curtail spending by the Democratic caucuses in the Georgia House and Senate, which paid more than $60,000 for mailings on behalf of Sen. Vincent Fort and Rep. Rashad Taylor against challengers in the party’s July 2010 primary.
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.”
The State Ethics Commission ruled today that political campaigns may not give unlimited amounts of donations to other campaigns, reversing a position it took just two weeks ago. On Aug. 17, the commission dismissed a complaint over a $10,000 contribution to Warner Robins mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk late last year, holding that state law might exempt political candidates from contribution limits. But the commission said today that other language in the statute caps those types of donations.
The State Ethics Commission has every right to issue subpoenas as it investigates ethics allegations against gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine, a judge ruled today. The decision clears the way for investigators to get a better idea of any communication between 10 Alabama political action committees and the source of $120,000 in apparently illegal political contributions.
Well, it’s probably a Republican, since they’re the ones whose campaigns are rolling in dough these days. But the phattest? That’s in the eye of the beholder, and Atlanta Unfiltered works only in cold, hard facts. We can tell you who’s spent what from campaign money for a crib during the 2010 legislative session, though. The biggest spender: state Sen. Don Balfour.
Robb Pitts and the State Ethics Commission are headed to court to settle an 8-year-old dispute over excessive and unreported campaign loans. The commission Monday rejected a proposed consent order that would have closed the matter with Pitts paying no fine and no restitution. Commission members were told Pitts could still win in court and wind up with no penalty or finding of responsibility. Kent Alexander, a former federal prosecutor, said he’d rather lose in court “than have the commission say an elected official who is an experienced campaigner violates the rules” and gets away with it.
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s transfer of nearly $220,000 to the MMV Alliance Fund, a political committee under his control, is now the focus of a state investigation. The State Ethics Commission opened the inquiry Jan. 27 because MMV does not appear to be among the groups allowed to accept excess campaign funds.
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?
An ethics complaint could cost Sen. Ralph Hudgens much of his fund-raising edge in the race for Georgia insurance commissioner. Last month, Hudgens shifted $106,000 from his Senate re-election race to his campaign for the insurance job. The State Ethics Commission declared in a 2008 advisory opinion that candidates can’t do it that way, but Hudgens reportedly doesn’t plan to return the money.
By JIM WALLS April 6, 2009 — Georgia legislators, in the final hours of their 2009 session on Friday, appear to have muzzled the agency that monitors their compliance with campaign finance laws. Last-minute changes to Senate Bill 168 redefined the powers of the State Ethics Commission, which enforces laws governing financial disclosure for political […]