From Sine Die, a look at how ethics gets squeezed out of the sausage

Around 6 p.m. Thursday, the final day of this year’s legislative session, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle had to make a phone call.

He wasn’t phoning the speaker of the House so they could gavel the session adjourned, sine die. Rather, Cagle was asking his chief legal counsel about an amendment to a bill.

I know, I know: Government-jargon-blah-blah-blah alerts are sounding all across metro Atlanta right about now. But this story isn’t about Gold Dome process. It’s about money, power and how the two intersect in ways that can be hard to see.

For a seasoned presiding officer who wastes little time assigning bills to committees and making various other rulings from the rostrum, Cagle’s pause was unusual. Then again, the amendment was unusually delicate: Sen. Jason Carter, an Atlanta Democrat, was proposing a $100 limit on lobbyist gifts to legislators. It was the same limit proposed by Republicans and — until then — snuffed out by higher-ranking Republicans in both the Senate and the House this year.

Cagle hung up, brought the Senate to order, and spoke.

He personally, he said, had voted before for gift caps, and he would allow the amendment if he could. But he was advised that, legally, he could not deem the amendment germane to the underlying bill because it dealt with a different section of state elections law.

Cagle’s decision probably was the prudent thing to do, legally. Even some proponents of the gift limit acknowledged it’s not necessarily a good precedent to lump two issues that different into one bill.

Four hours later, though, some legislators dispensed with that restraint. But not to pass a gift limit. Oh, no.

Instead, senators voted 46-4 to approve a bill, HB 875, about hunting and fishing licenses. The final version of the bill just happened to include an amendment allowing some rulings by the state ethics commission to be sealed from public view.

Carter’s amendment and the underlying bill both fell under Title 21 (Elections) of the state code, but the amendment was deemed out of bounds.

Now, follow me if you can: HB 875 began in Title 27 (Game and Fish), looped in part of Title 52 (Waters of the State, Ports, and Watercraft), at one point stood to tack on another amendment concerning Title 50 (State Government), and eventually circled all the way back to — irony alert — Title 21 (Elections), to add that part about sealed records.

To be fair, I guess, all those various portions of HB 875 did relate to withholding information from the public.

In the end, House members caught on to the attempt to use HB 875 to take some of the transparency out of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (the agency formerly known as the State Ethics Commission). They voted it down, 143-25.

But if you’re wondering how these two situations could unfold so differently, you haven’t been paying attention. Everyone at the Capitol is for ethics and good governance, until they aren’t. So, as I heard in recent weeks from multiple people, the House can try to restore rule-making authority to the ethics commission, only to be blocked by the Senate, and the Senate can desire to study a gift limit and other potential reforms but get a cold reception in the House for the idea. The only result is neither gets done.

A ray of hope: Cagle could follow his stated interest in a gift cap by appointing a committee to study the concept and propose a bill next year. Unlike some others, he at least seems to understand it’s good politics.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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120 comments Add your comment

ragnar danneskjold

March 30th, 2012
6:14 pm

You were right: “Government-jargon-blah-blah-blah”

Dumb and Dumber

March 30th, 2012
6:17 pm

and maybe Cagle decided that Carter’s amendment couldn’t go forward because Carter is a democrat and Cagle knew this amendment would cause embarrassment for the GOP. Not only is Carter a democrat, but he is also a CARTER, and you know how the GOP feels about that.

Oh yes, Cagle says he is for limits, what do you expect him to say? Now if Cagle could get credit for passing ethics reform he would have found a way to keep the amendment alive. This is how one-party government works.

Sandy

March 30th, 2012
6:17 pm

“In the end, House members caught on”

House members caught on because Rep Mary Margaret Oliver spotted it and got the word out.

Hillbilly D

March 30th, 2012
6:32 pm

This is how one-party government works.

We’ve had one party rule for close to 150 years, so we know how it works.

@@

March 30th, 2012
6:56 pm

Little links?

Hillbilly:

Left a video for you downstairs.

Skip

March 30th, 2012
6:59 pm

Remember the good old days when they at least tried to hide how dishonest they are?

Hillbilly D

March 30th, 2012
7:04 pm

@@

I’ve seen those boys before. They’re something. And rest in peace to the man that the vast majority of banjo players in the world, emulate; born with the perfect right hand. That’s off-topic and I’ll show myself to the door. (IW&SH)

And Josh Graves emulated Earl on the dobro, so most of the dobro players owe him a debt, too. Rest in peace, Earl.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RvI6ZI2JWc

Rafe Hollister

March 30th, 2012
7:18 pm

And after all this 40 days of blather, they accomplished what; someone remind me. Sine Die, thank goodness, please go home and pick up after yourselves when you leave, please.

Now with Ten Percent More Flavor

March 30th, 2012
7:26 pm

The Georgia GOP continue to meet or exceed my expectations. Pack of crooks.

sheepdawg

March 30th, 2012
7:56 pm

great article kyle, keep the heat on the corrupt ga legislature and governor crook

getalife

March 30th, 2012
8:15 pm

corrupt pols policing themselves is a horrible idea and does not work.

Michael H. Smith

March 30th, 2012
9:01 pm

You keep pounding away at one side of a two sided problem, Kyle. You do realize somebody has to elect these unethical politicians don’t you? What does electing unethical politicians tell you about the voters who elect them, Kyle?

The best solution is to never create its’ problem. We need smarter voters as much if not more than gift caps and ethics reform :)

@@

March 30th, 2012
9:12 pm

That’s off-topic and I’ll show myself to the door.

Don’t forget to pee on the dogs first.

(ISH)

I didn’t know about Mr. Scruggs (that’s what my Dad Called him).

He was a hillbilly too, ‘ya know.

Goodnight, Hillbilly, here and there.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 30th, 2012
9:13 pm

I’m just curious, the obozo administration has created an industry that serves no purpose, that being the green energy idiocy that has never produced anything of value, and has converted it into an enormous kickback scheme funding the election kkkampaigns of the same dummycrats that fund it, why are we even concerned with what the skimpy legislature in Georgia is doing?

Just askin…

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 30th, 2012
9:20 pm

Notice how kookman is free to attack Republicans on each and every subject, up to as many as five times a day, while Kyle seems to be relegated to the obscure Georgia House or confined to the insanity that is the Gingrich campaign?

Has the Urinal put a leash on our boy or what?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 30th, 2012
9:31 pm

MIAMI — Newly released police video of a handcuffed George Zimmerman may be important for what it doesn’t show: No plainly visible evidence of a life-and-death struggle with Trayvon Martin. – Urinal

I’m just curious, the left wing race baiters and lunatics of the dummycrat party are obviously itching for race war in the United States of America, some sort of sicko revolution, so why are we discussing the miniscule details of Georgia law making?

DeborahinAthens

March 30th, 2012
9:32 pm

Keep electing them…these are your picks, Kyle. I Report… What the hell are you babbling about? Your syntax is that of a person suffering from Mad Cow Disease.

@@

March 30th, 2012
9:38 pm

Newt still has a campaign going!!??!! For what office?

I’ve kept silent about the Trayvon Martin incident since I don’t know what happened. I knew this was bound to though.

Parents of murdered British students criticise Barack Obama

The parents of two British students murdered in Florida have criticised President Barack Obama for his lack of compassion over their son’s deaths.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 30th, 2012
9:49 pm

Debs- Notice how @@ understands but you don’t? You must be some sort of freak, I’m thinking.

JDW

March 30th, 2012
10:14 pm

Well another session of the Georgia Dome is in the books. The crowning achievement? They cut the unemployment benefits of the people out of work ’cause God knows we wouldn’t want those businesses to pay enough to support the system…lets get the unemployed to foot the bill instead the slackers!

Well you get what you vote for…around here it’s not much.

E. Denise Caldon, Georgia Whistleblower v BOR

March 30th, 2012
10:28 pm

If Cagle’s “chief legal counsel” was our state’s Attorney General Sam Olens, there would be no surprise that Cagle was advised against allowing ethics of any form. “Educating” our elected officials for the next Legislative Session regarding Olens’ legal record when it comes to his Defendants – top officials at the Board of Regents of the USG – has already begun – and will continue for as long as it takes. Section IV of our Georgia Constitution, our elected officials, and the BOR’s attorney, Attorney General Sam Olens allow no ethics and fiscal accountability by our state’s higher education system. A new Bill to amend the Board of Regents’ “exclusive authority” is long over due and is being discussed for the next legislative session.

Dusty

March 30th, 2012
11:22 pm

Well, all this is pretty sad when it is just a try at getting people to do what is right. Seems like people should come with ethics and not have to be threatened to get some If only it were so.

I won’t say anymore. I’ll let MarkV rewrite some new lines for me tomorow so they can be just right.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

March 31st, 2012
5:45 am

The crowning achievement? They cut the unemployment benefits
———————-

Look for the Georgia unemployment rate to drop. Smaller subsidies for sloth will get you less of it.

mike

March 31st, 2012
6:17 am

Ethics? We don’t need no stinking ethics! You goobers elected people who lacked ethics so where do you suppose they would suddenly get some ethics now.

GT

March 31st, 2012
7:50 am

Strange bedfellows the law and the GOP. The Republican Party loves the law when it is telling other people how to live their lives, but feel restricted when it reaches over and tells the Grand Ole Party how to live. They can put it in your bedroom, on your phone, in the voting booth, your hospital room, your classroom, dining room and murder you with it, but will not allow it in the chambers of state government. Less government for the Republicans means more government for the rest of us, and them is getting smaller and us is getting bigger, something has to give.

carlosgvv

March 31st, 2012
8:24 am

Georgia’s dishonest politicians are only a small part of a much larger problem America faces. Many times, in the past, historians and pundits have compared America to the ancient Roman Empire and have feared their fate may be ours. The Roman Empire fell because it became corrupt and rotten from within. The same thing is happening in America. Anyone who thinks history will give America a free pass on this is living in a fool’s paradise. It’s just a matter of time before our fate will mirror Rome’s.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

March 31st, 2012
9:31 am

“It’s just a matter of time before our fate will mirror Rome’s.”

Why not? As it is, we’re already looking towards emulating Greece!

MarkV

March 31st, 2012
10:00 am

Dusty @11:22 pm: “I won’t say anymore. I’ll let MarkV rewrite some new lines for me tomorow so they can be just right.”

Only if you ask me pretty please.

lgm

March 31st, 2012
10:37 am

Keep putting out the names of the legislators who attempt each maneuver in their own interest, make them well-known for what they do, such as the one who entered the amendment to hide certain Ethics committee activities, Give them credit for their efforts so all know who is doing these things and they can be recognized by their constituents at election time.

Michael H. Smith

March 31st, 2012
10:46 am

What is truly sad are these obvious democrat (Socialist Marxist) hacks commenting as though the liberal bums they’ve elected are ethical. They would also have everyone believe that Georgia only went to hell as a result of the past 12 years of GOP control.

Please don’t let this thought rack your brains: Only one way a State could get this screwed up and one political party have total control over all of it for 100 years… DUH! :roll:

Hoops

March 31st, 2012
10:46 am

the pessimism from regressive blogger’s knows no bounds.

Michael H. Smith

March 31st, 2012
10:48 am

lgm

March 31st, 2012
10:37 am

You’ve given the best answer I can think of that will do the most real good.

Dusty

March 31st, 2012
11:01 am

MarkV @10:00
“Only if you ask me pretty please.”
————-

Ha! Don’t hold your breath!!

And now to more important things.
I’m beginning to see why Democrats want ObamaCare so badly. THEY need it! Look at poor GT @ 7:50. He finds Republicans in his bedroom, phone, voting booth, hospital room, classroom, dining room and they will murder you!!! Yeah! Uh huh.Give that man his meds!!

Then Carlos comes along like the mighty Romans predicting our eminent fall. Everybody ready for the Coloseum? The sky is falling.

OH well, just another day with the happy Dems. Real sunshine kids, they are…But let’s talk ETHICS! What? Some other time? OK…Sine Die it is….. .

MarkV

March 31st, 2012
11:10 am

Dusty @11:01 am: “Ha! Don’t hold your breath!!”

What a relief. I was afraid you might actually ask me to do that.

Dusty

March 31st, 2012
11:20 am

MarkV 11:10

Have no fear! I won’t be asking.. But the so-called Correction Facilities could use you. They have a lot of people who need corrections.

Just saying..

March 31st, 2012
11:46 am

“To be fair, I guess, all those various portions of HB 875 did relate to withholding information from the public.”

Fun-ney!

Just saying..

March 31st, 2012
11:51 am

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin…
March 30th, 2012
9:13 pm: “Obozo…”

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin…
March 30th, 2012
9:20 pm: “Kookman…”

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin…
March 30th, 2012
9:31 pm: “left wing race baiters…dummycrat…”

Gee, you whine a lot.

getalife

March 31st, 2012
12:12 pm

Our President’s first term was the comeback.

Our President’s second term is peace and prosperity.

Game over for you cons.

MarkV

March 31st, 2012
12:19 pm

Dusty @11:20 am: “But the so-called Correction Facilities could use you. They have a lot of people who need corrections.”

You would have to find a need for a correction in my posts. I could not do that with your posts – I do not want to occupy so much space on the blog.

MrLiberty

March 31st, 2012
12:49 pm

Ethics gets left out because we only have the democrats and republicans in office. Both parties lack any sound principles, care about the constitution, liberty, or freedom and neither actually respects the proper role of government. Those who aspire to elected office are generally the worst in society (for who else would desire a position that is fundamentally based on force or predicated on the position that government has the right to tell people what to do with their money or their lives). We no longer have statesman in office. We have politicians/parasites. Until the electorate changes their views on the proper role of government (protecting freedom and liberty – and NOTHING ELSE), we will continue to get government that treats us like their servants, rather than the other way around as it should be.

Old Timer

March 31st, 2012
1:10 pm

We don’t pay these legislators enough. And now you want to put a cap on the gifts they can receive? What are you—a bunch of commies? You think it’s cheap to run for office? You’re all socialists!

Dusty

March 31st, 2012
1:21 pm

Mark V

Short and sweet, huh?

Well, as usual, you misread my post. You could help CORRECT people at a Corrections Facilities. You know. LIke you enjoy correcting people who post here.

OH why do I do this. I should be out riding in my car since I was able to find it again after the rain washed away the pollen. (Relax, MarkV. That’s hyperbole! Honest. I did not really lose my car under pollen. )

MarkV

March 31st, 2012
1:39 pm

Dusty @1:21 pm: “Well, as usual, you misread my post. “

No, I did not. I just wanted to give you the benefit of doubt.

Dusty

March 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

Old Timer, 1:10

You got it! A bunch of socialistic commies!! Let’s make ethics laws for lobbyists. Put them on the payroll and let the legislators give them gifts. The legislators getting the worst deals on contracts would be ousted. Lobbyists offering the best deals would be promoted to legislators.

If we are going to have wheeling & dealing we might as well make it legal. Then we could call it ethical.

Dusty

March 31st, 2012
1:43 pm

MarkV

Yes you did.

MarkV

March 31st, 2012
2:00 pm

Dusty,

You are always right – when you are not wrong.

Oppo

March 31st, 2012
2:09 pm

Cagle is a pathological liar and adulterer. No one down here believes a word that comes out of his mouth

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 31st, 2012
3:09 pm

A nightclub in Montgomery, Ala. is raising eyebrows by hosting a “Food Stamp Friday” party on April 6 that seems to glamorize life on the federal government’s food assistance program.

See ya there, Markie!

Or maybe we can hit Welfare Wednesday!

Duh!

Michael H. Smith

March 31st, 2012
3:09 pm

Since we know what causes lobbying, lets make laws that make lobbyist impracticable or unnecessary.

1) Eliminate corporate and business taxes.

2) Require that no State laws or regulations shall be legislated that will protect any business or corporation from capitalist market competition.

3) Make the State bidding process where possible more open, transparent and inclusive of small and start-up businesses.

If you know of any more ways to send lobbyist wheeling-it down the highway just add your ideas to the itinerary Dusty.

bluecoat

March 31st, 2012
4:16 pm

GW. destroyed the USA in 8 years.12 years to destroy Georgia.About right .