Barnes’ ethics plan has Deal in mind

Former Gov. Roy Barnes on Thursday said that any candidate for statewide office should be required to release seven years of complete tax returns and called for a “no cup of coffee rule” for lobbyists dealing with elected officials.

At a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, Barnes unveiled his plans for ethics reform.

“Ladies and gentlemen, behind me stands the people’s house,” Barnes said. “The Gold Dome should shine as a beacon of honesty and openness, but we all know that has not been the case. It’s been the home of secret, inside deals.”

The former governor, a Democrat, now seeking a return to office, presented several ideas clearly aimed at his Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal. Barnes’ proposal to require that statewide candidates release “complete” tax returns, including all schedules and amendments, is a continuation of the candidates’ squabble over Deal’s refusal to release details of his tax records.

Barnes has posted 25 years of complete tax records to his website and called on all other candidates to do the same. Last week Deal responded with 30 years of records, including federal 1040 forms, but not more detailed schedules that could shed light on his private business dealings.

Barnes also said he would prohibit any executive branch employee from meeting privately with a state or federal elected official about the official’s personal business — another shot at Deal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2009 that Deal personally intervened with state officials in an attempt to preserve a state program that earned his business $300,000 a year. The report led to a congressional investigation that found Deal likely violated U.S. House and federal government ethics rules but Deal resigned from Congress before a final determination was made. The AJC also reported in July that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed records and testimony from Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham about a meeting Graham had with Deal in 2009.

Deal has denied any wrongdoing and his attorney said Deal has been told he is not a subject or target of a federal investigation.

Barnes said his ideas were not “inspired” by Deal, but that Deal’s situation was a factor.

“Certainly, Deal is a good example of why we need the law,” Barnes said.

Barnes’ plan would also:

Make the General Assembly subject to the state Open Records Act, to which they are now exempt.

Eliminate all gifts, including meals, from lobbyists and vendors to lawmakers.

Require all state elected officials to give more detailed campaign finance disclosures in non-election years.

Require state vendors who earn more than $10,000 in non-salary earnings from the state to register as vendor lobbyists.

The General Assembly last year passed an ethics reform bill that increased disclosure and tightened reporting requirements for lobbyists and legislators. It also increased fees and fines for violators.

Barnes said that was a good start but that more was needed. But he also acknowledged that getting lawmakers to go along with his plan is a long-shot.

Republicans, however, said Barnes did little when he was governor to address ethics and that since the GOP took over earlier this decade the state’s ranking on ethics by an independent watchdog has improved from 39th to 7th.

“Roy Barnes had a disastrous record on ethics and ignored much-needed reforms as governor,” state GOP chairwoman Sue Everhart said.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Deal in March said he would implement a gift ban for executive branch employees.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said the  Legislature just passed “sweeping” ethics reforms that are the envy of the nation. He said he looked at the idea of a ban on gifts from lobbyists and said his research in other states showed that those bans “lead to underground lobbying and non-reporting.”

“This is political; it’s a political gimmick,” Wilkinson said.

But Barnes’ campaign countered that during his first term, in 1999, Barnes signed into law legislation that expanded the state’s Open Records Act and rules governing open public meetings. His first act as governor, too, was to sign an order banning lobbyist gifts to employees and he voluntarily put his private financial interests into a blind trust when elected.

22 comments Add your comment

Daniel

September 9th, 2010
3:59 pm

It’s amazing how these guys rhetorically copy the Libertarian candidate but have no past actions of DOING WHAT THEY SAY. I believe Deal had his sweetheart contract with the state when Barnes was Governor. What a bunch of empty suits. Vote John Monds.

David

September 9th, 2010
4:31 pm

ROY BARNES, A CAREER LAWYER, IS QUESTIONING THE ETHICS OF NATHAN DEAL?
THAT’S LIKE STEVE SPURRIER TEACHING SPORTSMANSHIP TO OTHER COLLEGE COACHES!!! I THINK I’M GONNA BE SICK!

The Ghost of Gene Talmadge

September 9th, 2010
4:43 pm

Hey King Roy….how about a ban on accepting any campaign contributions from lawyers who want judgeships from you, their spouses, children, relatives, employees, etc.

Hmmm?

Louder your Highness, couldn’t quite hear you over the grumbling of your Cup-Bearer Bobby Kahn…

No? Ha! Didn’t think so!

Diehard

September 9th, 2010
4:55 pm

In 20 years of running for Governor, Roy can claim to have been for it or against it – whichever got him the most votes at the time. Enough already. Send Roy home and Mayree to the Mall.

cowgirl

September 9th, 2010
5:39 pm

look who’s bleating the loudest – the one at the teat of gubment

Road Scholar

September 9th, 2010
6:00 pm

” Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said the Legislature just passed “sweeping” ethics reforms that are the envy of the nation.”

So why didn’t you consider the ethics bills that Kentucky and Maryland have? These where even more “”sweeping”" than your half a$$ attempt.

At least Barnes is raising the bar on ethics. What has Deal done or proposed? You can whine all you want, but it doesn’t change the issue of Deal being underhanded. Yes Roy has made mistakes and has even apologized for some of them. And Deal?

xdog

September 9th, 2010
6:05 pm

A no-bid contract for every voter!

Dave

September 9th, 2010
6:06 pm

Rep. Wilkinson: Which nation are you talking about? I’ll give you China and a few others. This country? Georgia’s ethics rules are laughable, were the problem not so serious.

Dick

September 9th, 2010
6:13 pm

when a governor who was defeated 8 years ago runs for election, what do you have? A person who has 8 years of retaliation, envy, bitterness, and anger ready to let loose. God help Ga if Barnes goes back for a second term, and God help us if Obuma goes back as well.

Anon

September 9th, 2010
6:14 pm

“Republicans, however, said Barnes did little when he was governor to address ethics and that since the GOP took over earlier this decade the state’s ranking on ethics by an independent watchdog has improved from 39th to 7th.”

Is there any possible way we could know who this independent watchdog is? I mean this is a pretty big statement to make to counter Barnes’ ethics plan and just not let us know who this watchdog is. Some people would like to actually read this report.

Dick

September 9th, 2010
6:15 pm

I think the general public should be the ones that hear the ethic charges for our elected officials. When I say genral public I am talking about those who make close to minimum wage and owes no one any favors. In fact I don’t think the elected officials should know who is listening to their ethic charges. An ethic charge in Georgia is a joke.

King Roy Barnes

September 9th, 2010
6:19 pm

I can out promise everyone.
Vote for me.

Deal ain't great, but Barnes is worse

September 9th, 2010
7:08 pm

I am having a hard time getting excited about either of these career politicians. Deal has plenty of issues and is probably not completely innocent, but Barnes is as bad a choice for Governeor as you can make. He’s got a lot of debts to repay, a lot of grudges to settle, and is in the pockets of the teachers unions. Moreover, he’s a Democrat. After the disaster that president BO has been, I’ll never vote for a Dem again!

Mad Dog

September 9th, 2010
7:35 pm

We’ve had 8 years of Glenn Richardson (literally) sc$%^ing hottie lobbyists, Sonny doing personal real estate deals from the Gov’s office, and Deal toting his Chief of Staff from DC to monitor his personal business dealings with State govt. Roy Barnes proposes some meaningful changes here…so the predictable reaction of the GOP on this blog is to lambast Roy as corrupt with no evidence to back up the charge. You may not like Roy or his politics. But on ethics in govt, Roy deserves credit for walking the walk.

Justin

September 9th, 2010
7:40 pm

ROY BARNES 2010!!!

Commonsenseagitator

September 9th, 2010
9:00 pm

Deal has shown he isn’t trustworthy. He betrayed everyone who voted for him by switching partys. Barnes did a lot of good whicl ein office, only the teachers and dumb rednecks who got mad about the flag issue voted him out. No question who to vote for and it ain’t deal!

Solomon

September 9th, 2010
10:21 pm

Concerning this thing about Deal’s auto inspection business, it seems to me that he did what any citizen would do. That is, he exercised his rights under the U. S. Constitution, First Amendment by petitioning the government for redress of grievances. Whether he petitioned by himself or had a representative is irrelevant. It would be interesting to see how many times Barnes has done a similar thing, either for himself or for a client or constituent. Barnes is trying to exploit a non-issue, and is probably being hypocritical in the process.

Tech Man

September 9th, 2010
10:46 pm

Retread Roy supporters please remind us about his back room deals illegally taking the GA 400 money to finance his outer beltway plans.

luangtom

September 9th, 2010
10:57 pm

Retread Roy did little while governor to allay people’s concerns about ethics under the Gold Dome. Now, he has seen the light and repented and wants ethics reform he aims at his competitor. My, how convenient.

If King Roy were to “promise” us that he was not obliged to unions and other groups then I guess maybe we could see clear to saying Retread Roy has seen the light and is changed. But, alas, he will owe those that endorsed him and will pay them back in ways that most certainly will fall under his own ethics reform. Shame on you, Roy. Quit making promises you cannot keep.

Robert Toombs

September 10th, 2010
7:15 am

It took just one term of Roy Barnes to end 150 years of one-party Democrat rule in Georgia.

Chief Wiggum

September 10th, 2010
8:11 am

Neither of these candidates have told me why I should vote FOR them, rather, they tell me why I should not vote for their opponent. Barnes wants to tighten up ethics, but he comes across as a stereotypical trial lawyer making his millions, and wanting to deny others the chance to make theirs. Deal just feels sleazy to me. Barnes will be the lapdog of the teachers unions, thinking the “solution” to education is to throw money at it.

I feel like I ought to just sit on my hands in November.

James

September 10th, 2010
8:15 am

If Barnes wanted to really make some significant changes, he’d made the governor’s office and legislature subject to the open meetings and open records acts.