April 11, 2012 — Dozens of Georgia lobbyists and political candidates may get relief from fines assessed for filing their financial disclosures late. Thousands more, the state Campaign Finance Commission decided today, will get no such reprieve.
Dec. 14, 2011 — Remember the Georgia Legislature’s promise last year to impose tough new penalties for violators of campaign finance laws? Not gonna happen — at least not yet.
Starting this year, candidates could be fined $1,375 for filing a financial disclosure 45 days late. But legislators didn’t provide the money to pay for late notices, so the maximum fine for now is just $125.
Georgia legislators last week took back an extra $30,000 budgeted to enforce ethics laws in 2012, leaving the State Campaign Finance Commission yet again to do more paper-shuffling and less investigating. “We really only have time to go after the most egregious of cases,” executive secretary Stacey Kalberman said.
Hundreds of state officials — legislators, department heads, members of boards and commissions — haven’t submitted financial disclosures that were due last July. Countless politicians also failed to report campaign finances on time — or at all. But the State Ethics Commission, crippled by budget cuts, usually does nothing more than e-mail them a reminder. Says Tom Plank, interim executive secretary of the commission: “We can’t even mail them a letter.” Read my Ethics Watch column online here in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Better late than never: Four Georgia legislators, including Rep. Sheila Jones of Atlanta, filed personal financial disclosures last week for 2008. Some, we’re told, even mentioned Atlanta Unfiltered when they made sure the state received their reports. That leaves 10 Democrats who still haven’t filed. UP NEXT: We’ll take a closer look at where the money’s flowing in the Legislature, and to whom. One hint: It ain’t to the Democrats.