Georgia law books are chock-full of statutes written to curtail undue influence on political activity and public policy. So utilities and insurance companies can’t give to a candidate seeking an office that regulates them. Legislators can’t take political donations while in session. Politicians can’t use campaign money for personal benefit. State workers can’t accept gifts from vendors or lobbyists.
Except when they can.
Time and again, Georgia journalists and watchdog groups have found that money finds a way to flow around those laws. These and similar findings underscore what can sometimes be a gaping divide between Georgia’s legal standards for public accountability, on the one hand, and everyday practice. In a new, state-by-state analysis of ethics and accountability practices, Georgia ranks 50th with a grade of F from the State Integrity Investigation.
A Fulton County judge has dismissed an effort by Georgia Democrats to upend a 2006 law requiring voters to produce a photo ID before they cast a ballot. Democrats contended the law was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. ‘Tain’t so, says Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell.
Former House minority leader Bob Irvin chastised Republicans in the Georgia Legislature on Monday for failing to make good on the GOP’s longstanding promise of sweeping ethics reform in state government. “Ethics was part of our core creed for 30 years,” Irvin, now chairman of Common Cause Georgia, said in testimony before a joint House and Senate Ethics panel. “It was our core creed, it seems, until we took over.”