2/23: Capping lobbyists’ gifts

Moderated by Rick Badie

We expect integrity to trump political ideologies and social mores. It’s no wonder, then, that proposed ethics legislation designed to cap lobbyists’ gifts to Georgia lawmakers has garnered broad support from opposite sides of the aisle.

Today, a Democratic leader says the bills aren’t strict enough while a tea party activist laments their standstill in the General Assembly. Plus, we offer some other views on the lobbyist cap issue.

What do you think?

10 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly D

February 23rd, 2012
3:13 pm

If somebody leaves the Legislature because they can’t accept gifts anymore……..good riddance.

Mary Elizabeth

February 23rd, 2012
12:38 pm

A postscript to my 11:32 post:

In addition to my earlier comments, Georgia’s voters should work to change how money flows to politicians, in general. This is a more pervasive issue than simply capping monetary value of “the gifts” politicians can receive from lobbyists.

Citizens need to insist that more stringent limits are placed on contributions to political campaigns, and to politicians, period. Some say that placing limits on contributions citizens can give to political candidates would limit their “voices.” So be it. Your money is not your voice, just as corporations are not people. (The Supreme Court’s decision in that regard was an ill-advised one.) This country was not designed to be run by, and for, the wealthy elite but for, and by, all of America’s citizens. That means that every voice should have equal weight. Those with money should not have a greater voice than that of the common man or woman.

If we stop believing that to be true simply because we give into a current cynicism, then we will have given up on America, itself. I refuse to do that.

=============================================

Paul Krugman on the results of cynicism in America, NY Times, 2/12/12:

“The point is that today’s dismal G.O.P. field — is there anyone who doesn’t consider it dismal? — is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.”

Mary Elizabeth

February 23rd, 2012
12:37 pm

A postscript to my 11:32 post:

In addition to my earlier comments, Georgia’s voters should work to change how money flows to politicians, in general. This is a more pervasive issue than simply capping monetary value of “the gifts” politicians can receive from lobbyists.

Citizens need to insist that more stringent limits are placed on contributions to political campaigns, and to politicians, period. Some say that placing limits on contributions citizens can give to political candidates would limit their “voices.” So be it. Your money is not your voice, just as corporations are not people. (The Supreme Court’s decision in that regard was an ill-advised one.) This country was not designed to be run by, and for, the wealthy elite but for, and by, all of America’s citizens. That means that every voice should have equal weight. Those with money should not have a greater voice than that of the common man or woman.

If we stop believing that to be true simply because we give into a current cynicism, then we will have given up on America, itself. I refuse to do that.

=============================================
Paul Krugman on the results of cynicism in America, NY Times, 2/12/12:

“The point is that today’s dismal G.O.P. field — is there anyone who doesn’t consider it dismal? — is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/opinion/krugman-severe-conservative-syndrome.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

carlosgvv

February 23rd, 2012
12:15 pm

“We expect integrity to trump political ideologies and socal mores”. In Georgia?

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Mary Elizabeth

February 23rd, 2012
11:32 am

@The Snark, 9:25 am

I am sure that what you say is true, unfortunately.

As a retired teacher and public servant, I had worked diligently to better the lives of my students, and I gave of my time, after hours, to teach parents how to foster their children’s success. I did this because I had a passion for enhancing the lives of others, and not because I was looking for personal, materialistic gain. My vision, as a public servant, was consistent with the visions of
Thomas Jefferson and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

I would suggest that citizens of this state vote for political candidates who truly desire to serve the public’s interest. To find them, look for those candidates who will not vote in lock-step fashion with political party mandates, but who will, instead, vote their own consciences. These public servants still exist today. However, the public, first, has to value their self-giving vision, and, then, the public must seek them out and encourage them to run for political office.

The Snark

February 23rd, 2012
9:25 am

Mary Elizabeth:

If our legislature passed a bill prohibiting their members from receiving gifts from lobbyists, guess how many would not be back then next year? A lot. Really.

Don McAdam

February 23rd, 2012
7:24 am

Who’s the biggest obstacle to ethics reform in Georgia? Is it the lobbyists who can give unlimited gifts to our lawmakers and thus ensure that the doors of power remain open to their paid influence? Is it Speaker of the House, David Ralston who himself enjoyed a lobbyist funded $17,000 European trip? Whoever it is, it’s almost certainly not the house ethics chairman, Representative Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs).

Mr. Wilkinson, by almost any assessment is powerless. He takes his orders from his boss, Mr. Ralston. If he were to join his constituents and the more than 70% of Georgians who favor comprehensive ethics reform, he might lose his chairmanship and his house seat might be challenged by a well-funded fellow Republican. Yes, as ironic as it sounds, if the chairman of the house ethics committee were to actually advocate for ethics reform, he would likely suffer political consequences from his own Party.

But the greatest obstacle to ethics reforms is actually you and me. We obviously haven’t done enough to ensure action on this issue. But to do my part, I would like to challenge Rep. Wilkinson to a debate. Yes, I know I said he was powerless, but since he defends a corrupt system, he should do so publicly. In the debate, I’ll take the side of increased disclosure and limits to lobbyist gifts and Mr. Wilkinson (house ethics chairman) can take the con side. This is where you come in. Please call and write his office and ask him to agree to a public debate on this matter.

joe.wilkinson@house.ga.gov
404-463-8143

Take care,
Don McAdam

wildwillie

February 23rd, 2012
7:17 am

When David Ralston says the voters will decide this issue, I understand it to mean that he is going to continue to take these so called gifts and donations no matter what, until someone stops him. Yeah, that is integrity alright.

double

February 22nd, 2012
7:46 pm

This was posted before.
To restore public trust.pass ethics reform.
In GA time to halt unlimited gifts from lobbyist.
Unlimited gift-giving is legalized bribery.
House leaders try to squash ethics reform.

Mary Elizabeth

February 22nd, 2012
7:15 pm

The fact that many of Georgia’s legislators are resisting capping lobbyists’ gifts to themselves is reflective of how materialistic and self-serving our nation has become in the last few decades.

Thomas Jefferson actually lost money when he served this nation as its Secretary-of-State, Vice-President, and President. His salary for those positions was small, and he had to leave the care of Monticello’s farming oversight to others, for years, while he was serving as a public servant to our nation. Jefferson said that he knew others in politics would choose to profit financially from their public service, but that he was content in his decision not to do so because he preferred to sleep well at night, with a clear conscience.

Oh, that we had more public servants of Jefferson’s calibre today.