Sept. 4, 2012 — Glenn Richardson walked away from the Georgia Legislature with $220,000 in campaign funds to spend with little oversight. More than 2 1/2 years later, as he plans a run for the state Senate, he still hasn’t officially disclosed what he’s done with it. The former speaker of the House assures me, though, that he hasn’t taken a penny for himself. “I have received no checks from that,” said Richardson.
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.
State Rep. David Ralston’s campaign raised $137,750 in less than a month after Republicans chose him to be speaker of the House, disclosure reports show. He had less than half the fund-raising time as his predecessor, Glenn Richardson, before his first legislative session as speaker, but Ralston nearly reached Richardson’s total of $149,920. The most generous donors to Ralston: hospitals and the health care industry.
Rep. Mark Butler secretly taped conversations with University of West Georgia officials after they fired a lobbyist who was his former girlfriend, the Carrollton Times-Georgian reports. Butler later called the university to complain, telling a secretary that her boss “had just pissed off the whole political party firing Erin. This includes Speaker of the House, Rules Chairman and Senate.”