Some Georgia Republicans’ newfound fondness for state jobs

A bunch of small-government Republicans sure are learning to love life in the public sector.

Chip Rogers, the recently deposed Senate majority leader, last week became the latest GOP lawmaker to leave the Gold Dome for a job at a state agency. Rogers resigned his seat to accept Gov. Nathan Deal’s offer to work for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

One guesses he won’t use his new perch to take up Mitt Romney’s crusade against government subsidies for Big Bird.

If Deal ever holds an all-agencies employee picnic, Rogers won’t lack for familiar faces. He’s the seventh Republican legislator in the past two years to take a job with the state.

There are former representatives Timothy Bearden, now head of the Georgia Law Enforcement Training Center; James Mills, now a member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles; Hank Huckaby, now chancellor of the University System of Georgia; and Mark Williams, now head of the Department of Natural Resources.

Then there are ex-senators Mitch Seabaugh, now deputy state treasurer, and Jim Butterworth, now adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard.

Normally, when good-government advocates bemoan the “revolving door,” they mean legislators, regulators and their aides moving on to jobs working or lobbying for the companies they used to oversee not people leaving the Legislature for the full-time state payroll.

There also are, of course, a number of GOP legislators-turned-lobbyists. Nor should we ignore that, as with lobbyists for private companies, these ex-legislators’ experience and relationships in the General Assembly are coveted by the agencies that hire them.

And it’s true certain state jobs are appointed by the governor, and it’s true the governor has the right to fill them as he sees fit. That includes appointing legislators to them.

And perhaps we shouldn’t read anything into the fact that, by my count, these seven appointees represent more Legislature-to-bureaucracy career moves in two years than we saw in eight years under Gov. Sonny Perdue. (Technically, Perdue recommended Williams for the DNR job, in consultation with then-Gov.-elect Deal.)

But if there is concern about these moves among Georgians, particularly those who consider themselves small-government conservatives, there are at least two justifications for it.

First, there’s the obvious worry that legislators will spend their time angling for state jobs rather than doing the jobs they were elected to do ­– particularly when the sluggish economy is still making it tough to make a living in the private sector. But we might wave off this notion as overblown: We are talking about seven legislators in two years, and there are 236 members of the General Assembly. It’s a trend, but not yet a stampede.

The second concern may be less obvious but more pernicious: A big problem with chumminess among lawmakers and lobbyists is it’s harder to say no to one’s friends. It’s no different when those friends work for state agencies, with their annual budget requests.

That’s bound to enlarge government. And how many legislators would vote to close an obscure board, knowing it might one day hire them at a six-figure salary?

It would be nice to think the effect might be reversed, that these former GOP legislators might be just the ones we need to filter into the bureaucracy with their conservative principles in tow. It seems we’re due for an object lesson in whether you change the Leviathan, or it changes you.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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126 comments Add your comment

curious

December 10th, 2012
10:03 am

You highlight the problem with Republicans. They rail against government , but eagerly jump right in the trough.

Credibility. Nobody believes them.

Mr. Holmes

December 10th, 2012
10:08 am

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that “small-government conservatives” would re-evaluate their principles in return for a nice cushy public appointment. What’s next, professional athletes cheating on their wives?

Whirled Peas

December 10th, 2012
10:12 am

Too many Republicans just want their snouts up at the government trough. That is why the Tea Party exists.

stands for decibels

December 10th, 2012
10:14 am

I’ve been tempted to take more than a couple of cheap shots at Chip, but I’m basically on the “pay the guy to go away” side when it comes to explaining the wherefores of that recent hubub. (Does anyone yet know just how much he’s supposed to be paid for this new gig at GPB?)

And how many legislators would vote to close an obscure board, knowing it might one day hire them at a six-figure salary?

That’s a fair question, but it’s always going to be with us, unless you have very strict laws forbidding elected officials from ever working for such organizations afterward, and I don’t know how useful, or necessary, such a rule might be.

Real Athens

December 10th, 2012
10:24 am

Kyle,

In defense of Hank Huckaby: He retired as Comptroller at UGA (under Mike Adams) and THEN decided to run for office in his District in Oconee County.

He was then APPOINTED Chancellor of the University System of Georgia. Hank Huckaby is a good, hardworking man who has done more for the state of Georgia than most realize; because he has been a behind the scenes man, out of the limelight, by his own choice,

Jaquandria

December 10th, 2012
10:33 am

This kind of expose about Republicans feeding @ the public trough is something I’d expect to find over on Bookman, so kudos to Kyle for even talking about it.

Why people, particularly Georgians, seem to expect Republicans to be more virtuous escapes me. At the end of the day politicians are like everyone else, looking out for themselves first.

td

December 10th, 2012
10:37 am

As much as some Conservatives thing so, we can not get rid of all government functions and if we have to have them then Conservatives should be running those agencies. I have advocated to the Governor for years to put Conservatives into leadership positions in the bureaucracy. I think the Governor only has about 500 jobs to go before we can start implementing real Conservative philosophies into these rules and regulations.

Next step is to get about 200 or so Conservatives at the State DOE and in the University system to start writing Conservative curriculum.

splavistic

December 10th, 2012
10:41 am

So, you’re saying that the Republicans spout one thing, and then act another? Hmm. I would NEVER have said that about the ‘principled’ Republicans.

yeah baby

December 10th, 2012
10:47 am

Kyle

Nice coulumn. Both parties have a history of doing what you stated in the article or going the lobbyist route to leverage their connections and influence.

Nothing new..

This is right up there with the stimulus rants that have come from some who took stimulus money.

Neither side is immune from hypocrisy and never will be.

yeah baby

December 10th, 2012
10:50 am

td

Yeah boy…. We will have arrived when we start seeing the Jesus rode the dinosaur curriculums..

What a day that will be

CB

December 10th, 2012
11:06 am

I have said it once, twice. As a matter of fact I have lost count of the many times I have said it. So, let me say it again just for the record. Republicans are a bunch of hypocrits!! Their hypocrisy know no limits.

middle of the road

December 10th, 2012
11:06 am

I thought Chip Rogers resigned to be with his family more.

JF McNamara

December 10th, 2012
11:07 am

There is no way they are going to go to those agencies and fire people like you advocate. It was harder when they were nameless and faceless while working in the legislature. Its going to be even harder now that they know them. It’s highly likely they ask for more, not less, money.

——
“particularly when the sluggish economy is still making it tough to make a living in the private sector”

The economy isn’t that bad anymore. The election is over. Maybe its time to drop the pessimism…

Kyle Wingfield

December 10th, 2012
11:08 am

td @ 10:37: I’d be a lot more sympathetic to that line of thinking — and note that I did mention it toward the end of the column — if we were talking mostly about agency heads and other posts with a chance to bring about real change. I’m far from convinced that’s the case with most of these.

yeah baby

December 10th, 2012
11:16 am

Kyle

As for the economy, is that really Chip’s issue?

Seems a job was created at GPB for “someone” and by mere coincidence With the problems swirling around Chip, he got the job.

Let’s make sure your bias as a right leaning Op Ed writer still stays on an intellectual level.

yeah baby

December 10th, 2012
11:20 am

Kyle

Excuse me. Should have typed “intellectually honest level” not “intellectual level”

My apologies.

td

December 10th, 2012
11:21 am

Kyle Wingfield

December 10th, 2012
11:08 am

I agree with you about the agency heads. I would much rather see Chip Rodgers running DHS or DCH then the job he took. I also would like to see a good Conservative as the next President of UGA.

Road Scholar

December 10th, 2012
11:22 am

Kyle, have you filed a FOIA request yet to see Mr Roger’s salary and job description? Is he being paid out of the Governor’s budget? Ya’ know GPB has had their budget cut recently. Also, does Mr Rogers get a sweater?

catlady

December 10th, 2012
11:24 am

Thank you, Kyle. Something I can agree with! Part of the problem with the “Democrats did it first” is that the Democrats never called themselves the “small government party.” Never campaigned on “family values.” Always have held themselves up as the “morally superior party.”

I am absolutely opposed to wasting any more time or money supporting the syncophants that our governor seems to be dedicated to supporting from the public monies.

snoqualmiefalls

December 10th, 2012
11:24 am

td@10:37
HMMM, you are advocating consevatives to run just about everything in the State, and write the laws and regulations, with what goal do these folks have in mind? Do these folks wish to promote the general welfare of the good citizens of the State? Do they wish to enrich themselves from the coffers of the State? Is one of the primary goals to achieve a One Party State, ala Cuba or N. Korea, not allow for opposiong opinions? I always hold suspect any ideology that advocates one party rule, one ideology and I would think the good citizens of the State would feel the same, providing they know something of 20th century political history.

Road Scholar

December 10th, 2012
11:24 am

td: I would like to see Rogers in jail for fraud! Oh, and let HIM pay for any election costs.

Pizzaman

December 10th, 2012
11:27 am

Politics as usual. The Gov paying off his political cronies.

Puck

December 10th, 2012
11:30 am

I wonder if these jobs also include Platinum plated pensions, that they are immediately eligible for.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 10th, 2012
11:32 am

Where else you gonna get a job?

Proofread

December 10th, 2012
11:33 am

md

December 10th, 2012
11:36 am

“The economy isn’t that bad anymore.”

I’m guessing the 23 million still unemployed/underemployed would not agree with that comment.

The economy is anemic at best………..

md

December 10th, 2012
11:40 am

“is that the Democrats never called themselves the “small government party.” Never campaigned on “family values.” Always have held themselves up as the “morally superior party.””

And amazingly keep get elected as the non small gov’t party.

As for the “morally superior” part of the equation, I disagree. That is exactly what they think they are when they make the decision to require others to pay for the “less fortunate”, although I’m at a total loss as to how one can claim the moral superiority by doing so.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 10th, 2012
11:42 am

Friday’s “Employment Situation” report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that 5.4 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force since Barack Obama took office. The labor force declined by 350,000 in November, despite an increase of 191,000 in our working age population.

This is what the libs call a good economy.

DannyX

December 10th, 2012
11:42 am

Of course Chip’s phony position will come with a pass to all of the events that will take place at the new unnecessary Falcons stadium. If Chip is to be fully tuned into the economic development of the state he’ll have to have access to all the occupants of those 500 new corporate stadium suites. Hey, maybe he can tape a few shows there!

Gotta love our Georgia “Republicans”.

Kyle Wingfield

December 10th, 2012
11:44 am

Proofread @ 11:33: Thanks. Fixed now.

Lee Stu

December 10th, 2012
12:05 pm

It’s Small Gov t for YOU big Government for them Cut Gov’t taxes but pay Me a BIG salary plus pension Health care for family College for kids while bemoaning BIG Government

Lee Stu

December 10th, 2012
12:13 pm

I remember when Ouinn Gov of Ill in ois was consumer advocate Now as GOV pay back for pols who helped raise taxes by appointing to Gov’t boards where big npay/pensions but little work Meetings 1 a month or every 3months but take home pay monthly found out HOW springfield really works

carlosgvv

December 10th, 2012
12:17 pm

Georgia politicians have been feeding on the Government and lobbyist gravy train for years now.

Darwin

December 10th, 2012
12:32 pm

Kyle – Are you saying that GOP politicians are a bunch of hypocrites? That small government equals more freedom really DOES sound like it just belongs on a bumper sticker?

JDW

December 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

“I would much rather see Chip Rodgers running DHS or DCH then the job he took”

:roll:

I think he would make a dandy dogcatcher in say Taliaferro County population…1,717

[...] Go to this article [...]

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

December 10th, 2012
12:48 pm

The proglodytes who have a problem with Republicans taking state jobs should advocate for those jobs to be eliminated. Otherwise, shut up about it since you think those jobs are so necessary.

tiredofIT

December 10th, 2012
12:49 pm

Conservationism is a racket.

Johnny boy says..

December 10th, 2012
12:51 pm

May be the first Republican ever, to hold a position at GPB. Wonder if he is interested in a PBS office ?

yeah baby

December 10th, 2012
12:51 pm

“Otherwise, shut up about it since you think those jobs are so necessary.”

Deal is a “proglodyte”? He created Chip’s job

Nice try, but big whiff.

Take another swing.

The Kid

December 10th, 2012
12:54 pm

Contrary to all the posturing, there is no morality in our government. There is the lordly dollar which seems to convert the majority of our elected officials to it’s lordship. Corruption is from the top down but our prisons are filled from the bottom up. The R.I.C.O. laws are the perfect tool to correct what is wrong in the politics of; not just Ga.; but American politics.

Cutty

December 10th, 2012
12:55 pm

What Kyle omits is that these are the same individuals that rail against the size of government as a plank in their governing platform, except when it benefits them. Where are all you GA Republicans who claim socialism at every turn? I do think there are more qualifies people for these positions if Deal ever looked outside his office.

td

December 10th, 2012
12:58 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout – OBAMAPHONE!!!

December 10th, 2012
12:48 pm

If Republicans start taking government jobs away from the few Dems that actually work then the party will actual turn into the “do nothing. taker” party.

Kyle Wingfield

December 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

Cutty @ 12:55: Right, I omitted it by mentioning it in the very first sentence…

The Snark

December 10th, 2012
1:14 pm

Kyle, your naivete is showing again. Some of those people were bought off with government jobs because they were causing problems in the legislature, or otherwise embarrassing the party. If this was Russia, the powers that be would simply have dropped a plutonium pellet in their pillow.

The Snark

December 10th, 2012
1:18 pm

td: If you think Chip Rogers could run DCH or DHR, then you truly don’t know a damn thing about government.

puck: Rest assured that state workers do not have access to platinum plated pensions. The good pensions were phased out years ago. Someone who joins the executive branch in 2012 is eligible for a watered down 401k plan that would make working at McDonald’s look good.

Kyle Wingfield

December 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

Snark @ 1:14: I think you’re overstating it by saying “some” — I’m not sure your theory really applies to anyone but Rogers. But I don’t think their reasons for leaving make any difference wrt the effects I discussed in the column, which in the grand scheme of things are more important imo.

JF McNamara

December 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

@Aesop, @md,

Unemployment is not the same thing as Economy. Companies are making money hence the stock market increase and consumer spending doing really well.

Unemployment is high, but that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the economy. Companies found out they can do the same job with less people during the recession. Hence they are doing that and sitting on huge piles of cash. Double that with the fact that outsourcing sent a lot of middle class jobs overseas and you understand why unemployment is behind.

mbtc

December 10th, 2012
1:33 pm

“Next step is to get about 200 or so Conservatives at the State DOE and in the University system to start writing Conservative curriculum. ”

You would have fit sooo well in the Third Reich’s propaganda machine, TD. Don’t give our youth an education, tell them what we want them to know.

Bob Loblaw

December 10th, 2012
1:36 pm

A big problem is a lot of these legislators spend a lot of time in a $17,000 a year job, have businesses that dry up and kids about to go to college and in all candor, they see a job opening and apply with the governor because they need a job that pays. Many of those that have taken the jobs are well-qualified, but I can see the correlation and the image issue that arises. The most recent one has a little of a different twist, however. It’s not like a seat on the Parole Board, that, well, is required by the Constitution.