Poll Position: Should we cap lobbyist gifts at $100?

In keeping with the series that began last week, the second question on Republicans’ July 31 primary ballots reads as follows: “Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?”

Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?

  • Yes (140 Votes)
  • No (20 Votes)
  • I don't know (1 Votes)

Total Voters: 161

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As much as I’ve written about ethics reform, I have not done a Poll Position question about this issue. No time like the present, right?

For background, you can read here, here, here and here, among other columns. But the gist of the issue is that, unlike almost every other state, Georgia does not limit gifts from lobbyists to legislators. We do have some pretty strong transparency laws, which at least allow us to see who is getting what, from whom. The question is whether transparency is enough.

I’ve been arguing that it isn’t. But now y’all get to weigh in on the issue: Should there be a $100 cap on these gifts? Answer in the nearby poll and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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104 comments Add your comment

arnold

June 1st, 2012
5:28 am

I’d prefer to see no gifts allowed of any amount.

Fartavious

June 1st, 2012
5:29 am

I agree with Arnold.

gman

June 1st, 2012
5:48 am

No gifts, PERIOD!

marko

June 1st, 2012
5:55 am

How are we to keep the best sleaze balls money can buy, if we compel them to live by the same rules that apply to people in the real world?

Gift's ain't the problem

June 1st, 2012
6:43 am

I’m all for limiting the “perks,” but term limits is an even better solution. I used to say two terms is the limit. I’m about to the point of one and done. That way they hit the ground running, don’t take extended breaks during their “session” and don’t rely on the position as their permanent employment.

DeborahinAthens

June 1st, 2012
6:46 am

I’m for term limits as well. They will find a way around the $100 limits.

Ronnie Raygun

June 1st, 2012
6:49 am

Georgia politicians should have to follow the same rules as all other Georgia government employees, no gifts of ANY value should be accepted from lobbyists or vendors with state business.

If they do, 30 days in jail for both the politician and the lobbyist on the first offense. Double the sentence for every subsequent infraction. No more soft on bribery!

Road Scholar

June 1st, 2012
6:51 am

No gifts, and the elected official who accepts one is forced to resign and the lobbyist who provides the gift pays the admin cost of the new election to fill the vacated position. No paper work, no confounded forms, no ifs , ands, or buts.

ByteMe

June 1st, 2012
6:58 am

$25 limit. Raise their pay to bring it in line with the amount of time they spend at it (which is about 4-5 months of the year), so that we can get better quality morticians in there.

Skip

June 1st, 2012
7:00 am

Can someone explain why they should get a gift of any kind?

GT

June 1st, 2012
7:02 am

I would like to see money as far away from politics as possible. Maybe the state could pay these guys a little more or even give them an expense account, they pay their own way and when if gets out of hand they are cut off. Anything outside of that is illegal.

One discomforting fact about these superpacs, someone on the news last night said if they had been around last election Edwards would have been totally legal to have this third party group spend as much money as needed to clear his problem up. These lobbyist in Georgia could be call minipacs but they are just as dangerous if not stopped.

Tyler Durden

June 1st, 2012
7:06 am

The state GOP will continue doing two things: 1) paying massive lip service in public, and 2) privately doing everything possible to ensure nothing changes with regards to lobbying. We had a former GOP speaker of the house committing an ongoing affair with a lobbyist and driving legislation in her favor, which everyone knew about, and the state GOP actively thwarted any attempt to investigate it. What makes you think anything has changed?

GT

June 1st, 2012
7:18 am

The same speaker’s chief of staff shows up in an indictment in Alabama bribing people in the state legislature for gambling rights. He was acquitted but my lord what was this man doing in that kind of company in the first place.

md

June 1st, 2012
7:34 am

No gifts, and tie their pay to results………give them a base salary plus when they actually make something happen on the plus side. And if their actions, regulations can be tied to a negative, dock them.

Sherlock

June 1st, 2012
7:40 am

No gifts. Without the wining and dining, they might have shorter sessions and do less harm.

sheepdawg

June 1st, 2012
7:41 am

and vote out ralston, balfour, chipper, tommie williams, casey, and the rest of the gop trash

laurie

June 1st, 2012
7:45 am

No gifts and term limits sounds good to me.

Karl Marx

June 1st, 2012
7:48 am

Lobbying should be outlawed and no gifts what so ever. As far a legislator compensation I read an article that made the best proposal I have ever heard. We pay legislators to make laws and we have so many that no one can know them all. Lets give legislators a bonus when the repeal laws and charge a penalty when the write new laws. Now that actually would slow the growth of government.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 1st, 2012
7:55 am

Kyle, what’s your take on your party’s fascination with voter fraud? Do you see it as the big lie that it is?

Senor Coughee

June 1st, 2012
7:58 am

NO gifts whatsoever to the legislator or ANY of said legislators relatives, legal representatives, etc.

the red herring

June 1st, 2012
8:13 am

since the question was a $100 limit i would vote yes. However I would agree with many others on this blog that the limit should be lower or even zero. These people are elected to represent their voters not the interests of lobbyists who many times do not have the voters best interest at heart.

Queen Bee

June 1st, 2012
8:13 am

No gifts and term limits for all – including Washington. These people should not be “lifetime” congressmen or representatives. They are a huge part of what is wrong with this country! So crooked you can screw them into the ground…

dc

June 1st, 2012
8:22 am

So let’s see…..absolutely not contact between lobbyists and our elected officials…..since I’m assuming that buying lunch or dinner would be a gift. But, I absolutely want access to share my POV through the lobbyists that my pet group pays to get our POV across.

If it was that easy, folks, it would be solved already. There are always more sides that journalists lay out in their blog posts.

John Ellison

June 1st, 2012
8:23 am

No gifts or personal contact. All communication should be handled via email which would be subject to the Open Records Law.

A Conservative Voice

June 1st, 2012
8:29 am

That’s trying to buy a vote and should be illegal and anyone caught giving OR receiving money or goods for the purpose of influencing or voting for money or goods should be charged with a felony. Our lawmakers should be above reproach.

Bobby

June 1st, 2012
8:42 am

From the liberal perspective of things, no gifts should be received by any elected official. Gifts are nothing more than bribes. And we don’t have to look any further than our local elected officials whether Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett or other local officials.

iggy

June 1st, 2012
8:43 am

We have term limits. Its called voting. Im ok with the $100 cap, which is also the norm in most private sector business.

Finn, ginning up the Obama vote.

iggy

June 1st, 2012
8:45 am

If the Obama jobs numbers keep decreasing then $100 cap wont be an issue as their will be no jobs.

md

June 1st, 2012
8:45 am

In breaking news Kyle, unemployment rate goes……..up.

That should be interesting to track in the polls. Wonder who will get the blame?

A dad

June 1st, 2012
8:47 am

I find it pretty funny so many are blasting the Repblicans for not doing away with lobying, refusing to set limits, politicians having affairs, etc. Do you really think it was any different when the Democrats were in charge?

Oblama

June 1st, 2012
8:47 am

Cap lobbyists gifts at ZERO. That would eliminate a lot of paper work. In fact, charge lobbyists $100 payable to the state every time they contact an elected politician – including the governor. They are taking up time with someone that is on the clock with the state. This won’t stop crooks from being crooks but it will make it easier to prosecute them.

md

June 1st, 2012
8:47 am

“Gifts are nothing more than bribes.”

Funny how it seems everybody is against gifts and bribes until it shows up in their own wallet…..it happens in reverse in exchange for votes all the time, but folks tend to only gripe about what the other guy is getting.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 1st, 2012
8:52 am

their will be no jobs.

Don’t worry iggy, someone will need your mad burger flippin’ skillz.

The Snark

June 1st, 2012
8:54 am

I see absolutely no reason why an elected official should be allowed to take a gift of any amount, but I’ll take a $100 limit.

If it passes, it will be interesting to see who quits the General Assembly immediately afterward.

The Snark

June 1st, 2012
8:57 am

@ A dad: No, it was not the same when the Dems were in charge. Things have changed a lot in the last ten years. The volume and value of the gifts is far, far greater now. This has nothing to do with which party is in charge — in fact, many of the same people are in charge, only in a different party — it’s more a reflection of changes in the times we live in.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 1st, 2012
8:58 am

So Repubs can vote to limit it to $100 but then we’ll have to wait until our Republican lawmakers get around to voting on it?

iggy

June 1st, 2012
9:02 am

AmVet

June 1st, 2012
9:06 am

Is it any wonder that Georgia is dead last in public corruption laws?

Or that you just elected one of the 15 most corrupt members of the entire US Congress as your governor?

As well as a long litany of other money-grubbing Republican scandals involving corruption, sexual misdeeds with lobbyists, etc?

Thank you, fake conservatives.

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

June 1st, 2012
9:12 am

Meanwhile, at least the Repugs have the decency to obtain their trivial perks from the coffers of private industry instead of pilfering it from the US Treasury in obscene quantities, like Michelle obozo, for instance.

iggy

June 1st, 2012
9:14 am

You’re welcome, ScamVet.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 1st, 2012
9:23 am

You conservatives elect a guy with known ethics issues and now you’re worried about ethics issues in the rest of the state government?

Conservatives are the most confused people!

I think it might be time the adults take away your toys (voting id’s and especially guns.)

Jefferson

June 1st, 2012
9:31 am

I also say they are state employees and should follow the same rules. Zero is the limit, maybe a Coke at the most.

iggy

June 1st, 2012
9:42 am

Secr of Labor now spinning like a top. Blame blame blame…

AmVet

June 1st, 2012
9:51 am

Thanks, piggy.

Frank Castle

June 1st, 2012
9:52 am

I think we should CAP all lobbyists…

…with high-caliber firearms.

BOOG

June 1st, 2012
9:54 am

if money is the root of all lobbying evil, why tolerate any amount? Why place an artifical cap on the amount of a “gift” when that cap can be easily circumvented by just inviting another lobbyist to dinner?? Just sayin…..

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 1st, 2012
9:54 am

I’d say a $10 cap on gifts, anything more than a ball cap or pen is a bribe.

However, I was reading a story of a crook the other day who was charged with buying off and corrupting the authorities and he had a good response. He said, “I never bought anyone, that wasn’t already for sale”.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 1st, 2012
9:54 am

“Zero is the limit, maybe a Coke at the most.”

As long as that Coke is less than 16oz, a la Mayor Bloomberg, right, Jefferson?

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 1st, 2012
9:55 am

Frank Castle, there is zero need to post something like that.

Try to be civil, OK?

HIPPOCRIT

June 1st, 2012
9:59 am

HOW ABOUT NO GIFTS

these BASTARXX are working for taxpayers
why should they get gifts at all
they are being paid to do a job