In Georgia, time to halt unlimited gifts from lobbyists

NOTE: A few weeks ago, my conservative colleague Kyle Wingfield and I were discussing the need to strengthen Georgia’s ethics laws, which put no limit on the value of gifts from lobbyists to legislators and make it difficult to hold state officials to modern standards of conduct.

We agreed that it’s an issue in which ideology should play no role and that offers common ground across the political spectrum. So we decided to adopt passage of a tougher ethics law as a joint project for this legislative session. We kick off that effort this week with columns in the Sunday AJC. (Kyle’s has been posted on his blog here.) As my column below explains, the key to success is voters getting involved and demanding to be heard.

———————

According to an AJC poll released a week ago, 72 percent of registered voters in Georgia believe there ought to be a legal limit on the value of gifts that lobbyists can give those whom we elect to represent us in the General Assembly.

house

Many state legislators don’t buy that claim. House Speaker David Ralston and others argue that they’ve seen no evidence of such support, and believe the public is satisfied with a system that allows lobbyists to shower politicians with gifts of unlimited value as long as those gifts are reported.

Who’s right?

For now, Ralston and his colleagues are right. Poll numbers are merely that — mute numbers on a page. Politicians respond to poll numbers only to the degree that they believe voters will act on them. If voters expect to be heard, they first have to speak.

In the speaker’s case, he accepted a $17,000 European vacation for himself and his family– all paid for by lobbyists — and aside from some bad publicity he has paid no political price for it. So if voters care, he’s been shown no evidence of that.

That has to change.

This year, the nonpartisan good-government groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters have joined forces with the Tea Party movement and Georgia Watch to push a package of ethics reforms in Georgia that would include a $100 limit on the value of gifts to state elected officials. The goals also include restoring the authority and independence of the agency once known as the state Ethics Commission, which has been gutted by state officials unhappy with anybody looking over their shoulder.

senateEvery one of our neighboring states — Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — has adopted either outright bans on lobbyist gifts or limits that are much more strict than the proposed limit of $100 in Georgia. In other words, this is not some radical scheme; if adopted, we would still have the most generous gift limit in the region.

Bucking considerable pressure from their colleagues, legislators in both the House and Senate have agreed to champion a reform package. State Rep. Tommy Smith, a Republican from a rural district in southeast Georgia, said Thursday that he wants to help “make Georgia a state where the people out there who elect us have more influence than these lobbyists that walk the floor everyday.”

“We didn’t have a revolution so the special interests could run the government,” Smith said. “We had a revolution so people could run the government.”

Smith is chairman of the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee in the House, a post that Ralston can strip from him should he choose to do so. But Smith is nonetheless willing to take risk because he believes it’s important that legislators have “a wholesome and a correct fear of the people who sent us here.”

Right now, that fear does not exist. As one small measure of the problem, lobbyists spent more than $35,000 last year just taking state officials on golf outings. If you think that kind of behavior poses a problem, you need to say so.

Otherwise, your silence is interpreted as your permission.

– Jay Bookman

183 comments Add your comment

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
7:13 am

It’s gonna take more than a poll and some articles on the AJC blog.
Politicians don’t easily give up largesse that benefits them personally.

Voters are going to need to write or email their reps consistently to demand limits and bans.

The reason the legislators feel that “reporting” is sufficient is because they are aware that the information is difficult to obtain, interpret and track, and that voters are in general fairly lazy. It only becomes an issue during election cycles and easily gets drowned out in the rhetoric surrounding the issue du jour.

In other words, the politicians are taking us for suckers.

Cloudodust

January 13th, 2012
7:17 am

In all seriousness, our local politicians are far superior in unethical behavior. Problem is only the local voter is aware of their lying, cheating, stealing ways. Some accept it as status quo, others try to get the word out. Pssst : Get the word out

nelsonh

January 13th, 2012
7:24 am

What I would do if I were a big politician would be everytime a lobbyist gave me a very nice present or a trip to some exotic place, I would take a constituent along. Who it would be would be by a lottery number. It would be sharing the wealth. Lobbyists will always be there.
The Governor{Deal} has an enormous project coming to Georgia, however it is a secret. I say it is a new deep water port for Savannah and Donald Trump to show how to get Casinos running and River Boat gambling. Georgia is on the move. And a new futuristic airport right in the geographical center of the state.

Normal

January 13th, 2012
7:27 am

It seems to me that our “Representatives” have no shame or problem with being seen as a corporation’s whore.

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
7:29 am

Solyndra! Obummer! Any random distraction so I don’t have to face a Republican Speaker’s $17,000 junket!

Let’s face it, 72 % of voters thought we should have Sunday sales and look at the incredible weaseling which followed. If you think a legislature that can kill anything in a smoke-filled room will stop taking graft, think again. H3ll, Chip Rodgers lifted a couple million from a bank and the cons didn’t bat an eyelash.

Our voters are lazy. They’ll chuck out an e-mail but never VOTE differently. As long as that’s true, I’m not marching off on any crusades, Jay. Wasted energy.

arnold

January 13th, 2012
7:30 am

No gifts. Nothing from a lobbyist.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
7:31 am

@nelsonh

I agree, lobbyists will always be there and they do serve an important function in terms of bringing issues and opportunities to the attention of the legislators that can and do benefit the citizens of Georgia. However, bribery should not be part of the process. Ethics reform can help to minimize the effect of the legislator getting his pockets lined and ego stroked at the expense of the electorate.

Granny Godzilla

January 13th, 2012
7:35 am

Jay

How can we help?

Jay

January 13th, 2012
7:37 am

Call and email, Granny G. Call and email.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
7:39 am

I see Aquagirl surrendered before putting up a fight.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
7:39 am

@Aquagirl:

I agree that voters are lazy and they are incredibly partisan. The Dems will vote for the (D) and the Repubs will vote for the (R). The issue only has consequences during the primary season, never in the general.

That said, I think that Kyle’s and Jay’s push is to take the meat out of the sandwich that Ralston is selling. That the polls say one thing while the voters are remaining mute. When the polls are backed up by the communications the legislators are getting from their constituents, they tend to take more notice.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
7:40 am

@Jay

Kyle published links to the legislators supporting the initiative on his post. You might wanna do the same.

Jack

January 13th, 2012
7:40 am

Call & mail has always been an option.

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
7:44 am

Jay and Kyle fighting on the same side of an issue … what WILL the nutter-butters find to whine about???

AmVet - “A lot of so-called conservatives don’t know what the word means." ~Barry Goldwater

January 13th, 2012
7:45 am

Every one of our neighboring states — Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — has adopted either outright bans on lobbyist gifts or limits that are much more strict than the proposed limit of $100 in Georgia.

Why are Georgia’s elected representatives consistently some of the most intransigent, backwards and corrupt in this entire country?

Because the people who elect them are perfectly fine with this debacle of a government we have here.

To wit, who exactly was ranked as one of the 15 most corrupt members of the entire US Congress before he won the election for governor handily?

And to Jay’s point, I concur.

Freedom is participation in power. ~ Cicero

Finn McCool

January 13th, 2012
7:45 am

Trying to fix the old boy network in Georgia? Ok, it’s worth a try.

ragnar danneskjold

January 13th, 2012
7:46 am

I believe in full disclosure, but otherwise oppose additional moralism in the code. If the voters don’t care, nobody else should. I oppose the joint effort of Messrs. Bookman and Wingfield as a waste of time. Better we limit the session to a single 48 hour period, to keep them from passing anything.

stands for decibels

January 13th, 2012
7:46 am

Call and email.

Ok, will do.

Thanks, Jay, and I’ll go over to Kyle’s place and thank him, too.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
7:46 am

Didn’t Ralston ride into town on a wave of anti-”politicians behaving badly” sentiment and promise to make things right. The most effective complaint I have against people such as Ralston is to hold them to their talk by comparing their words to their actions and thus far, Ralston strikes out. I am against the current system that allows politicians to receive anything of significant monetary value and I am most certainly against the efforts taken by some of our politicians here in Georgia to shield themselves from public scrutiny via their dismantling of the Ethics Commission. I also think this is a most appropriate matter for groups such as the League of Women Voters and the Tea Party to take on since they can more readily wield that show of force through numbers. I’ll certainly show my support by sending out e-mails and I hope others do the same and if appropriate change does not come then my vote will reflect my disappointment in our elected ones.

Thanks to Jay and Kyle for the joint effort.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
7:48 am

I thought Ragnar claimed to be a native of Florida.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
7:48 am

@AmVet
To wit, who exactly was ranked as one of the 15 most corrupt members of the entire US Congress before he won the election for governor handily?

My guess it is the same guy whose $1M+ real estate and business debt magically disappeared upon assuming residency in the Governor’s Mansion.

ragnar danneskjold

January 13th, 2012
7:49 am

Friend Aquagirl will be horrified that she and I fully agree.

ragnar danneskjold

January 13th, 2012
7:51 am

Dear Taxpayer @ 7:48, no, native of Tennessee. Lived in Florida for the past couple of years, but I’m here again. Trying to stay one step ahead of the police.

AmVet - “A lot of so-called conservatives don’t know what the word means." ~Barry Goldwater

January 13th, 2012
7:54 am

Rags is the PERFECT example of why this government stinks.

Sadly, there must be many of him around.

He hides behind his sophistry cloaked as “moralism” (?), but the fact is obvious, the man simply does not care a whit about ethical governance. Or that these representatives answer to us, the sovereign people, and not the special interests with the huge amounts of dirty money.

It is to me, unfathomable.

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
7:55 am

“Trying to stay one step ahead of the police.”

the fashion police?

which part of Tennessee?

Jerome Horwitz

January 13th, 2012
7:57 am

We have the best state government monied interests can buy.

Finn McCool

January 13th, 2012
7:58 am

James O’Keefe violates election law to prove liberals violate election law
salon.com

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:01 am

I see Aquagirl surrendered before putting up a fight.

I pick my battles, Jay. I think it’s meaningless as long as we have dimwit voters and a political system dependent on money and extreme partisanship.

Seriously, Nathan Deal was elected despite his ethics. Chip Rodgers is held up as a leader by fellow Republicans. The Teanuts pimp for Tom Graves. Mr CEO of Dekalb is out of office because he chose to run for Senate. People don’t care about ethics in their own lives, you think they care about their elected homeboy?

Passing ethics legislation will make you feel better, but as long as open crooks are re-elected, it’s meaningless. Legislators will find loopholes and the system will continue as always.

Fly-on-the-Wall

January 13th, 2012
8:02 am

Ragnar,

Limiting the session to 48 hours will on encourage more corruption and give us less time to find it. I think we need a FULL TIME legislative body so we can keep better tabs on what they’re doing PLUS stronger ethics rules. It still amazes me that people here in the South will look for a candidate that ‘looks’ to be the most Christian but allow that same person to rob us blind and then think nothing of it. Go figure.

Adam

January 13th, 2012
8:02 am

You and Kyle agreeing on something must piss some people off :D

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:03 am

Friend Aquagirl will be horrified that she and I fully agree.

AHHHHGGGHHHHHHGGGGGGG

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 13th, 2012
8:05 am

It seems that in the corporate world at places like Walmart, accepting even a small gift can get you terminated. I hate to say it but this is definitely a time when our legislature should be following NO Gift policies. There are ALWAYS strings attached or “favors” being purchased. Legislators should never prostitute their duties…oh look, a unicorn

Fly-on-the-Wall

January 13th, 2012
8:06 am

AmVet,

Amen brother. Seems too many people have the attitude of ‘they did and maybe I’ll get a chance to do that as well.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 13th, 2012
8:06 am

Doctor needed in Aquagirl’s room ASAP!

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
8:08 am

Aquagirl does provide a sound rebuttal, Jay. Quite the pragmatic voice and difficult to counter given our “dimwits’ ” choice of governor and for their election of people such as Rogers and Graves.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:09 am

You get the government you’re willing to tolerate, Taxpayer.

Paul

January 13th, 2012
8:10 am

The best to you, Kyle and all others leading on this issue.

Mick

January 13th, 2012
8:10 am

Florida actually did something right?

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
8:11 am

You get the government you’re willing to tolerate, Taxpayer.

I’m very intolerant, Jay! Have you not noticed!

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
8:11 am

I’m with Jay – if you don’t stand up and make a stink, then you have no one but yourself to blame when they stick with the status quo

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
8:17 am

My rebuttal to Aquagirl consists of two words:

“Tea Party”

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
8:17 am

btw – since we’ve talked about the Newtron’s attack on the Mittsiah about Bain, I thought I’d post the WaPo analysis: “Newt Gingrich, meet Michael Moore!”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/four-pinocchios-for-king-of-bain/2012/01/12/gIQADX8WuP_blog.html?hpid=z1

4 pinocchios … but, then, anyone who knows New to expect low standards for honesty

Mary Elizabeth

January 13th, 2012
8:19 am

“We didn’t have a revolution so the special interests could run the government,”(Rep. Tommy) Smith said. “We had a revolution so people could run the government.”
————————————————————————-

BRAVO to REP. TOMMY SMITH for his commitment to the same values and ideals that inspired our Founding Fathers to form our “more perfect union” and for his courage in sticking with this commitment, in spite of the fact that he could lose the Chairmanship of the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee in doing so. (I do not believe, however, that Speaker Ralston would make such a move that would be so contrary to the best interests of Georgians.)

When politicians are allowed to accept money and bribes from lobbyists, a more threatening outcome than valuing materialism is created. They, and we, will have created a culture in Georgia whereby politicians believe that they have the right blatantly to pursue their own self-interests instead of working for the interests of their constituents. Condoning a “culture of self-interest” by our state legislators only reinforces the “Age of Greed” that has been on the American landscape for far too many decades.

Rep. Smith, you make me proud of my south Georgia roots. What you are doing is exactly what my father, an outstanding city manager in my south Georgia hometown, would have encouraged you to do. I thank you not only for myself but for my deceased father.

I will post these remarks, also, on Kyle Wingfield’s blog, and I will call all of the legislators on both Jay Bookman’s list as well as Kyle Wingfield’s list. I wish to thank these two ethical journalists not only for these articles today, but also for posting names and phone numbers of legislators who have the power to stop the era of self-seving politicians in Georgia.

The next step is to work to ensure that the money that politicians, state and national, can accept for their election campaigns is very limited, perhaps even limited to government funds. We must recreate the America envisioned by our visionary Founding Fathers. This nation must remain, as Lincoln so passionately expressed, “of, by, and for” the people, themselves.

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:19 am

….Let’s not forget the illegal PAC contributor/insurance magnate hosting John Oxendine for a hunting trip. The only reason we heard about it is Oxendine’s stepson did a Cheney on another hunter. Again, Oxendine un-elected himself after 4 terms.

As long as voters re-elect crooks to office, you can pass all the laws you want. The only thing you will accomplish is making some poor but honest shmuck from Peanutburg, GA skip lunch. Whoop-de-friggin’-do.

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:21 am

My rebuttal to Aquagirl consists of two words: “Tea Party”

Watch the language, bub. :)

Adam

January 13th, 2012
8:22 am

TaxPayer: I do not think you are “very” intolerant. Just intolerant. The ones who can’t help themselves from hurling insults as soon as they are challenged on ANYTHING are the “very” intolerant ones.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:22 am

You refute your own argument, Aquagirl. Oxendine was the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for governor, with much more name recognition and money than anyone else.

And he finished what, third or fourth? Because his history caught up with him.

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
8:24 am

wow … I didn’t realize this happened 30 years ago yesterday

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/air-florida-crash-reflections-on-a-tragic-day-in-dc/2012/01/12/gIQAANhytP_video.html?hpid=z5

I remember that so well … and, during the 8 years I lived in DC, I couldn’t cross over the 14th street bridge and look down on the Potomac (especially in the winter) without thinking of those poor people

Brad Steel

January 13th, 2012
8:24 am

Other than legislators, how could anyone (well, really anyone who does not need to purchase influence) be against this?

Votes against this should be political suicide.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:26 am

You are correct, Brad.

That is why they will fight like hell to make sure no vote ever takes place.

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
8:29 am

“Votes against this should be political suicide.”

one can only hope.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
8:30 am

Step one in making an effective stink is to always identify said extent of stink and to fully disclose extent of stink to all involved parties with no use of deodorant. In short, I have come to believe that we need much more awareness on the part of the average voter regarding issues that affect them and that awareness has to come in the form of a dissemination of the whole truth in a way that will not be ignored or tuned out in favor of a “story” that one accepts because it smells good. Jay, we need more people with access to the people to spread the whole unabridged word otherwise Limbaugh and Co. win before we even get started. I’m glad to see that you and Kyle were able to find a common cause to address. By the way, how does it compare with Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s, et al, take on the subject. You know, some of the voices that reach far and wide day after day after day as far as the air waves will travel.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:30 am

Back in the mid-’90s we ran a similar and ultimately very successful campaign. At the time, lobbyists didn’t even have to disclose what they spent, and we forced them to change that.

Speaker Tom Murphy fought the proposal hard. His designated hit man on the Ethics Committee was a rep from north Georgia named Boyd Petit, who tried to undercut and kill the legislation at every turn.

After it passed, and Petit was up for re-election, he touted himself as a champion of ethics reform who had helped make sure the bill passed. We exposed that as a lie, and he lost.

He is now a registered lobbyist.

AmVet - “A lot of so-called conservatives don’t know what the word means." ~Barry Goldwater

January 13th, 2012
8:30 am

Fly, it would seem that after 130 years of being on the outside looking in, when the GOP finally did take over state government, they would take the high road.

Sadly, they did the very opposite. Under GOP “leadership” we have even more corruption and their attitude clearly is, now it is time for us to “get ours”. And ethics and the constituents, be damned. (They’re sheep. As long as we have an R after our name, they will keep on sending us right back to do the same things.)

As Jay notes, the consequences of there being no consequences.

OK, out to do the capitalism thing.

WRITE AND EMAIL THESE MEN AND TELL THEM THAT THIS IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE!

Curious

January 13th, 2012
8:32 am

Does that include local governments such as DeKalb County?

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
8:34 am

@USinUK
Re: Air Florida

I was there man. Stuck in traffic on the bridge when the plane hit – about 100 yds away from the impact. I can’t begin tell you how awful that was. I had nightmares for YEARS. I still get a bit wigged out when flying in the winter.

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:35 am

you refute your own argument, Aquagirl. Oxendine was the frontrunner for the GOP nomination

Holy frak, Jay, did you forget? Oxendine lost to NATHAN DEAL.

Is that really your argument that voters will select honest politicians over shady ones?

Have another cup of coffee and think about that one.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
8:37 am

@Aquagirl:

Sorry for the bad language. But my point was, misguided as they are, they were very effective in influencing the slate of candidates.

stephen

January 13th, 2012
8:37 am

Legislators COUNT on public apathy. It is what makes the system work so well – for them. When we blame our representatives for stealing from us, we deny our accountability.

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
8:37 am

Look – 8:34 – holy moly – sorry if that dredged up some bad memories for you – I was home safe and sound in GA – I remember watching the footage with my mom. Horrible day – but, who doesnt’ remember the act of bravery / heroism of the man diving back into the water to save that woman right before she went under

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:38 am

Aqua, I’ve expressed a lot of qualms about Deal on ethics questions.

But compared to the shameless Oxendine, he is a paragon of virtue.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
8:39 am

Holy frak, Jay, did you forget? Oxendine lost to NATHAN DEAL.

Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel.

Adam

January 13th, 2012
8:40 am

Jay: But compared to the shameless Oxendine,

It always saddens me when I see a statement like this. I probably know next to nothing about the people in question, but just HOW MANY TIMES are we going to fall for the pitting of someone absolutely nuts against someone who is “just unethical” before we realize we need to put someone up for office that isn’t either one of those things!? And I mean in ANY race.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:40 am

I think that hero would be Lenny Kutnick, USinUK, one of those faceless Washington bureaucrats. I still run across his name once in a while on reports and documents coming out of DC.

mm

January 13th, 2012
8:40 am

As usual, the politicians ignore the people that put them into office.

Adam

January 13th, 2012
8:42 am

Only 1834 more days until the next President is inaugurated, whoever that will be.

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
8:43 am

@USinUK
No worries – the memory comes back every year on this day.
Flying to NYC this afternoon – will down a couple of stiff ones in the Sky Club before boarding.

But back to our scheduled programming….

stands for decibels

January 13th, 2012
8:45 am

one of those faceless Washington bureaucrats.

1. It’s actually Skutnick

2. I was going to ask if anyone thought maybe he’s earned a raise, since he hasn’t had one in three years? But he retired from the CBO in 2010, turns out.

/drive-by

Look before I leap...

January 13th, 2012
8:45 am

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
8:39 am

Holy frak, Jay, did you forget? Oxendine lost to NATHAN DEAL.

Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel.

Maybe because she was endorsed by Palin?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 13th, 2012
8:47 am

Does that include local governments such as DeKalb County?

It should included ANY and ALL government officials at any level of government. NO gifts (the only exception would be a “lunch” not to exceed $25 with a cap of $100 per year per “entity” buying — and I would be willing to give that up too). However since we are talking about our state legislature, any state law would not reach the federal government.

Peadawg

January 13th, 2012
8:48 am

“Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel.”

Good question…

Peadawg

January 13th, 2012
8:49 am

“Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel.

Maybe because she was endorsed by Palin?”

Oh, well, there’s your answer.

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:52 am

Skutnick, it is.

If I recall correctly, he also became one of the first if not the first “hero in the audience” cited by the president (Reagan in that case) in the State of the Union, which has become pretty cliche by now. Gov. Deal did the same in his State of the State this week.

Curious Minds Want to Know

January 13th, 2012
8:52 am

It puzzles me how a local councilman or commissioner can serve more terms than a mayor or ceo! There need to be term limits set for all state political offices. Even the governor can only serve two terms. If a councilman can make under 30 thousand dollars a year and hold that same seat for say 10 plus years, how can they survive in this tough economy? There has to be some perks coming under the table.

Talking Head

January 13th, 2012
8:52 am

Jay,

I completely agree with you that our lawmakers should not accept gifts from lobbyists. I think it too is unethical.

If we can simplify our tax code (or eliminate the progressive income tax), lower corporate taxes, end subsidies for companies, and end this crony capitalist environment we have then lobbyist will disappear. Unfortunately our lawmakers enjoy the supreme power they possess and these steps that I laid out that need to take place more than likely won’t.

Stevie Ray

January 13th, 2012
8:52 am

JAY,

Since I’m quite the narccist, I presume you wrote this topic just for me.

Of course we can do something about this. Fun fact, Georgia’s constitution at one point (1800’s I think) explicitly banned lobbying of state corruptresentatives. Also I recently learned the term lobbyist was coined by Pres Grant from peddlers he hung around in Willard Hotel Lobby.

Jay, what is process to get a referendum on a ballot in this state?

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
8:54 am

compared to the shameless Oxendine, he[Deal] is a paragon of virtue.

No, he’s asmarter crook. Are you really comparing Oxendine’s ethical record against Nathan Deal’s? You obviously did not have the cup of coffee I suggested. Though I will cede you a point: ethics legislation ensures more competent crooks. I have been pleasantly surprised by Nathan Deal’s effectiveness, as opposed to Sonny “Pray fer Rain!” Perdue.

But my fellow realist TaxPayer has a point: Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel? It really boiled down to Deal’s backing in the legislature, his fellow thugs used their vote-production machines for a critical boost. Our resident dumb@$$es ran to the polls like a good bunch of lemmings.

If you think this electorate can effectively demand ethics from their officials, I have no idea where you came by that fantasy. Y’all may get some token legislation. I will be first to pat you on the back if that happens. Heck, I’ll even throw in a flightsuit and an aircraft carrier for your declaration of victory.

Peadawg

January 13th, 2012
8:55 am

“But my fellow realist TaxPayer has a point: Why did the voters choose Deal over Handel?”

?Would you vote for someone endorsed by Sarah Palin? Didn’t think so….

Jay

January 13th, 2012
8:56 am

Stevie Ray, there is no such process.

Proposed state constitutional amendments need two-thirds support in both the House and Senate to go on the ballot. And that’s the only process on the books for such things.

carlosgvv

January 13th, 2012
8:59 am

It is certainly true that “we didn’t have a revolution so special interests could run the Government”. It is even more true that money talks and BS walks. So, don’t look for Georgia politicans to give up their gifts from lobbyists. One way or another, money will find a way. We have the best Georgia politicians that money can buy and this will not change in the forseeable future. So, Jay and Kyle, find another cause to fight as your chances of winning this one are zero.

Stevie Ray

January 13th, 2012
9:00 am

“Arizona, Maine and Connecticut have adopted reforms that permit members of the legislature as well as other statewide offices, to fund their campaigns through small dollar contributions only…once they receive a qualified number of contributions, they receive funding from the state.”

Lot’s of success here as the politicians spend much more time amongh the voters than with funders. In DC, cash raising activities take up at least 30% of congresspersons time. Most only spend time on the floor when aides tell them a vote is needed. It’s only going to get worse in GA if we do nothing…

kayaker 71

January 13th, 2012
9:01 am

Seems that all of the zeal directed toward the Georgia Assembly and Deal might be because they are Republicans. Where was all of this reform rhetoric over the last gazillion years that the governor’s office and the Assembly were controlled by Democrats? I would venture that lobbying and special gifts are not just a Republican invention…. not by a long shot.

Jm

January 13th, 2012
9:05 am

Yeah bipartisanship

Stevie Ray

January 13th, 2012
9:05 am

JAY,

I’m dropping these guys emails today. Seems letter campaign and other media outlets are best ammo we possess at current. Any chance your an Kyles series can get front page? What about those local news folks….perhaps they can buck the trend and actually add some value to our lives…

Jay

January 13th, 2012
9:05 am

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
9:05 am

kayaker – 9:01 – scroll up to Jay’s comment about the last campaign headed by the AJC – it was when the Dems and Tom Murphy were in charge …

i’m sure Jay will gracefully accept your apology. he’s nice that way.

Aquagirl

January 13th, 2012
9:07 am

And in the midst of my pessimism, I’d like to remember Arland Dean Williams Jr, the survivor of Flight 90 who passed the lifeline to other passengers until he went under. What a remarkable man.

Stevie Ray

January 13th, 2012
9:07 am

KAYAKER,

Fair comment to be sure but I suspect some reporting has taken place. Know that books citing corrupt campaign finance/lobbyist are in fashion now and this is beginning to become a meaningful public topic across the country.

It’s the only true bi-partisan activity in DC and any state that has not adopted meaningful reform in this area.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
9:13 am

?Would you vote for someone endorsed by Sarah Palin? Didn’t think so….

Which begs the question, “Was Palin hired by Deal or one of the other Gubernatorial candidates?”

Jm

January 13th, 2012
9:14 am

You think some legislative assistant is smart enough to recognize a FL area code? :)

Just kidding. Your battle. Fight it.

Welcome to the Occupation

January 13th, 2012
9:15 am

House Speaker David Ralston and others argue that they’ve seen no evidence of such support, and believe the public is satisfied with a system that allows lobbyists to shower politicians with gifts of unlimited value as long as those gifts are reported.

Well, isn’t that convenient.

Libertarian

January 13th, 2012
9:15 am

Is the proposed $100 limit daily? yearly?

Jay

January 13th, 2012
9:17 am

Libertarian, it’s per expenditure.

Which is what makes the effort to fight it so ridiculous.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
9:18 am

Another thought I had in the back of my mind when asking why Handel lost out to Deal was w.r.t. the League of Women Voters and the Christian Coalition. Didn’t they choose what they considered to be the lesser of two evils in Deal over Handel, i.e., unethical behavior over not-one-hundred-percent-plus anti-abortion. Now they reap what they sowed.

TaxPayer

January 13th, 2012
9:23 am

House Speaker David Ralston and others argue that they’ve seen no evidence of such support, and believe the public is satisfied with a system that allows lobbyists to shower politicians with gifts of unlimited value as long as those gifts are reported.

Well, isn’t that convenient.

The tactics that the sly will use know no bounds. I have had local yokels refuse to look at documentation that I had gathered and the true reason was quite obvious, implausible deniability, but deniability none the less since they could truthfully claim later that they had never seen aid document. Their choice of wording is key.

Libertarian

January 13th, 2012
9:23 am

Jay

January 13th, 2012
9:17 am

Yeah Jay, if its per expenditure, couldn’t they just say instead of a $10,000 golf outing, it was 100 different $100 expenditures? Seems like there would be a lot of finagled expense reports.

Stevie Ray

January 13th, 2012
9:24 am

Am I truly hearing that some on this post are throwing in the towel….AQUAGIRL is this true or am I misreading your intent?

This is the only issue that truly matters locally and in DC. Any one who denies this in favor of the obligatory and useless BLUE v RED crap on other issues lives in fantasyland…

Jay

January 13th, 2012
9:25 am

Technically, perhaps, Libertarian. But you’d then have to report those 100 different expenditures, which wouldn’t look so good to the public and, perhaps, to an actual working ethics commission.

Jm

January 13th, 2012
9:27 am

Trotsky 9:15

Transparency is better than nothing

USinUK

January 13th, 2012
9:28 am

“Would you vote for someone endorsed by Sarah Palin?”

awww … how are the mighty fallen …