The excellent Jim Walls, at Atlanta Unfiltered, reports the latest pettiness of our legislators directed at the state Ethics Commission:
“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.
Lawmakers’ parting gift before adjournment could cripple the commission’s capacity to look into allegations against elected officials, candidates and lobbyists. The agency also may not be able to collect even the most rudimentary fines, including late filing fees that accrue automatically.”
But that’s not even the worst of it. Legislators also passed a requirement that the commission use certified letters, rather than a certified e-mail service, to notify politicians of a potential problem with their disclosure reports.
As Walls reports, each certified letter costs the commission $5.54 for each notice, for a total cost of $130,000. The $30,000 was intended to cover a small portion of that unfunded mandate, but even that was stripped out in the end.
As a result, the commission now lacks the money to mail out those warning notices. If it can’t mail out warning notices, it can’t impose fines or late fees either.
“We’ll just use what little money we have until we run out, and then we just won’t be able to send [the notices] out,” Stacey Kalberman, executive secretary for the agency, told Walls.
How utterly convenient.
– Jay Bookman