Your morning jolt: Roy Barnes rips state officials for taking free college football (and other) tickets

From this morning’s Athens Banner-Herald:

Former Gov. Roy Barnes ripped state officials Wednesday for taking free tickets to college sporting events while tuition and student fees are rising.

Lobbyists for state universities, mainly the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, gave away 570 sets of football and basketball tickets worth $93,771 in the past five years, according to State Ethics Commission records.

Dozens of elected officials took the tickets, including three Republican candidates for governor – Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, former Senate President Eric Johnson and former Secretary of State Karen Handel – and two Democrats, Attorney General Thurbert Baker and House Minority Leader DuBose Porter.

“It’s not right,” said Barnes, the Democratic frontrunner for governor. “It sends a bad signal for legislators and governors to come down here, living high on the hog and seeing championship games and everything else, and not pay. Let them pay.”

The newspaper quotes a UGA official as saying the free tickets are a necessary expenditure to build support for funding within the state Capitol. Barnes’ alma mater didn’t like being powdered with the same make-up being applied to other lobbyists surrounding the Legislature.

“It is unfair to associate the university with unethical conduct that has been alleged in the capitol. To the best of our knowledge, the university is operating entirely within state ethical guidelines in this regard,” the newspaper quoted UGA spokesman Tom Jackson as writing in an e-mail.

The former governor’s many opponents also dismissed his criticism.

We have been criminally remiss in not recognizing, and applauding, a great feat of citizen journalism.

At PeachPundit, former Gwinnett GOP chairman Buzz Brockway has compiled several spreadsheets using the year-end campaign finance disclosures filed with the State Ethics Commission.

Brockway has comparisons not only for all statewide races, but for all contested House and Senate races as well. He’s got them stored in Google doc files. Check ‘em out.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

42 comments Add your comment


January 14th, 2010
9:05 am

Breaking news —- Water is wet

Sara in Henry County

January 14th, 2010
9:06 am

Can you believe King Roy would find fault with others for things he has done on a much larger scale. He who lives in a glass house needs to be careful when he throws rocks because he might break his own windows. Of course I know King Roy believes “Do what I say not what I do”.

frugal voter

January 14th, 2010
9:18 am

All you can say is that I’m jealous. The donation required to score UGA football tix is beyond my reach. I’ve been to a few games and have seen my “representatives” there. Certainly not seated near me!


January 14th, 2010
9:24 am

Lets go back and see if One Term Roy, also known as the KGB (King Governor Barnes) ever took a ticket as a legislator or attended a football game as governor without paying for the ticket. I bet we identify a hypocrite!

Just for fun click on the youtube link to watch the Rat video.

Road Scholar

January 14th, 2010
9:28 am

SIHC: Please enlighten me about your post.

It’s interesting that the only way the school can get face to face with the legislators (and many are alumni) is to bribe, oh excuse me, pay them to sit and watch the game, oh, excuse me again, to talk about issues.Do they listen better if they are fed and given drinks?


January 14th, 2010
9:29 am

Too bad name recognition wins political races––and career politics is here to stay. Roy will be Governor – again.

Capitol Hack

January 14th, 2010
9:44 am

Other issues aside, Roy Barnes instituted a “no cup of coffee” rule regarding gifts from lobbyists within the executive branch when he was governor. That ban was modified by the sitting governor to a limit of $25.

No governor has control over what gifts legislators accept, but I agree that it looks bad during a fiscal crisis that universities have to raise tuition and student fees and still give away primo football tickets to politicians.

Bloggist Formerly Known as RJ

January 14th, 2010
9:54 am

Sounds like sour grapes because Roy Boy didn’t get free tickets. Wouldn’t hear a peep out of him about this if he did.

Stupid issue to raise. Now any investigative reporters worth their salt will start enumerating the many perks he received when he ran things. Maybe we should start calling him Barney Fife, because he definitely shot himself in the foot on this one…


January 14th, 2010
10:07 am

My man Ox can’t be bought for a few tickets to a football game. He holds himself to the highest ethical standard.


January 14th, 2010
10:11 am

Roy just needs to tend to his law practice & quit grandstanding for the governor’s race. Four years of him was too much!

Clayton from Troup County

January 14th, 2010
10:15 am

Ouch! That really hurts Porter since he was the one labeling everyone else as corrupt. It’s not really that big a deal; it just shows he’s all hat and no cattle. Can Paul Johnson run?

perry roberts

January 14th, 2010
10:23 am

Every person in public office who has served more than one term, should be forced from office.They take an oath to represent their people,but only serve those that can promote their stay in office.We do not have anyone who does the peoples work. I have no respect for anyone in public office anymore. thanks for allowing these few words. perry roberts

vince neil

January 14th, 2010
10:46 am

elections are technically term limits but this system is flawed as most voters who do so shouldn’t…..sooooooooooo…………….limits of 5-2 year terms for congress, 2-6 year terms for senators (who should be chosen by the states) and 2-4 year terms for governor….just sayin here…..


January 14th, 2010
11:00 am

The legistors should be involved with education, but not necessarily athletics.

But hey, I’m a reasonable kind of person. Let’s give them tickets to the less primo events, and the obstructed-view seats only. So, which legislators will be attending the games of say, Georgia State University’s football team? Or the Clayton State girls’ basketball games?


January 14th, 2010
11:07 am

Why was Handel there? I thought she was personally against higher education.


January 14th, 2010
11:09 am

some of you think it’s ok to bribe officials who control purse strings….morons;

check out salaries of regent personnel (not professors) and then you’ll begin to understand their ROI


January 14th, 2010
11:21 am

Again, the athletic assn has no control over tuition and fees. Yes, it is profitable to the tune of $72 million. But, it is separate, again we have other things to worry about….

That Guy

January 14th, 2010
11:23 am

To Perry Roberts:

When you speak, people should listen.

Politicians don’t have the nads to do the right thing.

mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm, Barack the LIAR Obama

January 14th, 2010
11:28 am

Payola, plain and simple…..


January 14th, 2010
11:44 am

I don’t know if there is a lobbyist gift that the Ox doesn’t like. How can people not see how corrupt this son of a gun is. I say this as a life long Republican…The Ox is the most unfavorable politician that I have ever had the opportunity to see. Dem’s you will be getting another vote in your direction if the Ox gets the Republican nod.

Alabama Communist

January 14th, 2010
12:09 pm

Heck! Everybody gets free tickets now that we won the National title!


January 14th, 2010
12:16 pm

“To the best of our knowledge, the university is operating entirely within state ethical guidelines in this regard,” the newspaper quoted UGA spokesman Tom Jackson as writing in an e-mail.

Oh, bless your heart, Mr. Jackson.

This is Georgia. “State ethical guidelines” and free tickets to college football games – well, does anything else have to be said?

We have a special kind of ethics in Georgia. Look how the former House Speaker, Glen Richardson, is not charged with ethical violations, not even investigated for them or for any real violation of conduct while in office, even though he had an affair with a lobbyist who promoted legislation which he advocated and voted on and then told his ex-wife that he would use his position to get state law enforcement to harrass her.

In Georgia, that is not an ethical violation any more than letting free tickets from colleges influence legislators to favor legislation the colleges want.

This is Georgia. We are Christians and Republicans. Our ethics aren’t about public wrong, unless it is committed by a Democrat – but I digress. We worry about the soul and we pray. Should we add your name to our prayers for Mr. Richardson?


January 14th, 2010
12:20 pm

When I get free tickets from the lobbyist or schools, I will say it is okay, until then there are expectations of something for something and that is like a bribe at our expense and that is wrong, wrong, wrong people! What is happening to us? Are we justifying bribery now?


January 14th, 2010
12:34 pm

Road Scholar is right — how extremely embarrassing that a spokesperson for UGA would say the school needs to give away free tickets to get legislators to “listen” to them. UGA should clarify: they are not, recall, a football stadium with a library attached on one side.

But the real problem with Barnes’ position is his cynicism, given his own behavior as an elected official, then and now. What happens at the Capitol in terms of gifts and money is small (albeit sleazy) fish compared to the campaign fundraising system that Barnes not only availed himself of but used to such excess that it alienated him from many in his own party. What’s one $300 dinner compared to dozens of invitation-only fundraisers where every single lobbyist in the state knows that he or she must pony up for Mr. Barnes or else be noted by their absence? Barnes barnstormed the state filling his coffers, and it speaks very badly of him that he simultaneously grandstanded about silly stuff like buying someone a cup of coffee at the time — or that he, of all people, is pointing fingers now. Behaving unethically for graft is bad enough. Exploiting the issue while still availing yourself of a merely more upper-scale style of graft is far worse — and like all exploitation, it sucks the guts out of the principle you’re claiming to uphold. A two-thousand dollar campaign contribution or a $1 cup of coffee: which one do you think buys the most influence? I prefer my legislators either actually honest (and there are many honest, decent elected officials) or at least visibly dirty and fire-sale cheap. It’s certainly a lot more egalitarian when anyone can buy a person’s vote for pocket change. Over the years, I’ve counted myself lucky to have a few legislators like that.


January 14th, 2010
12:37 pm

Did he take free tickets in the past?

Matt Caseman

January 14th, 2010
12:46 pm

5 other candidates weighed in. Here is what BLAKE AUED at Athens online wrote on their comments:

“For Roy Barnes to pretend that he, as Governor, walked into Sanford Stadium like a normal person without perks or special treatment is laughable,” Johnson’s campaign manager, Ben Fry, said in an e-mail.

Records show that Handel accepted tickets to two football games in 2007, but spokesman Dan McLagan said she paid her own way.”Roy should leave talk of ethics to those with a shred of credibility on the issue,” McLagan said.

Barnes said he wrote a check to the University System Board of Regents, which governs the state’s 35 colleges and universities, to cover the cost of every game he attended as governor. If re-elected, he said he would bar higher education lobbyists from giving away tickets. With families struggling to find work and many students in debt, the issue is a symbolic one, Barnes said.”The symbolism of cutting the university to where it bleeds and raising tuition in 10 and 12 percent increments and adding on fees and legislators going on free rides is not a good thing to send to our state,” he said.

Porter, who has three children attending UGA, said the $2,500 he donates to the university annually more than covers the cost of the free tickets he’s accepted. He has his own football tickets, he said, but attending games with university officials and other lawmakers helps him build support for UGA.”I’m one of the strongest supporters of the university system in Georgia, and I would vote for anything that President (Michael) Adams recommends,” said Porter, one of the architects of the HOPE Scholarship in the 1990s. Barnes “has taken more money from special interests than anyone in the history of the state,” Porter said, referring to the $20 million Barnes spent on his failed 2002 re-election campaign and $2.7 million he raised last year to return to the governor’s mansion.

Porter is sponsoring an ethics reform bill that would limit gifts lobbyists give to lawmakers to $25, and said he would abide by it even if football tickets exceeded that limit.

Barnes, who raised the limit on campaign donations from $1,000 to $6,100 as governor, is trying to distract voters from the contributions he’s taken from developers and state contractors, wrote Baker’s campaign manager, Jeff DiSantis.”When Roy was Governor, state universities gave away tickets, but now he attacks others for accepting the same tickets he used to give away,” DiSantis wrote in an e-mail. “As usual, Roy thinks the rules are different for him.

“State universities are a major economic driver, and Oxendine is “always happy to have an opportunity to visit with faculty and staff to learn more about their important work,” he said.


January 14th, 2010
12:49 pm

Barnes entered the State Senate at a time when the ethical climate was pretty relaxed. I wonder if a few tix offended him back then.

Independent Thinker

January 14th, 2010
12:56 pm

What Barnes doesn’t understand, and it shows his complete ignorance in education matters, is that the tickets come from the Athletic Association, and NOT from the school. It doesn’t affect the education budget at all. I know, as I work for the university system at a major school, and we don’t get jack sh** from the AA, but if there is a ball game going on, we have to move our cars so the donors can park!


January 14th, 2010
1:04 pm

Look folks.

It is a deflection to change the argument from “should he” to “did he.”

The issue is should legislators get free tickets. Don’t worry about who did it in the past – most of them did, Dem and Pub. Worry about should legislators get free tickets now and in the future, no matter what political party.


January 14th, 2010
1:06 pm

Independent Thinker: “It doesn’t affect the education budget at all.”

Rather naive of you to think that the schools won’t use those tickets to soften up legislators to vote for other things.

king roy

January 14th, 2010
1:26 pm

If anyone knows about corruption, it would be Roy.


January 14th, 2010
1:28 pm

I doubt many would agree with you Indep. Thinker……ever watch the appropriation process?


January 14th, 2010
1:36 pm

Noble King Roy at it again. Merely posturing himself as the pious candidate for Governer.

Ray McBerry is best answer for Govenor.

Mark "The Big Guy" Taylor

January 14th, 2010
1:51 pm

King Roy and his supporters have corrupted this blog.


January 14th, 2010
1:52 pm

Roy Barnes and ethics?
That’s an ox – e – moron.

Vince Dooley

January 14th, 2010
1:55 pm

If he thought this was so bad, why did King Roy take ticket for himself and Mary to attend UGA games?

Paul A

January 14th, 2010
1:56 pm

Free tickets to games for law makers?

So what?

Roy Barnes got the taxpayers to build a useless and multi-million dollar amphitheater in Mableton that nobody ever uses.

Ever heard of Mable House Barnes Amphitheater…. Neither have most people but they certainly paid for it.

There’s a reason the voters threw ‘Ol Roy out…

Dems are desperate… Why not just nominate Vernon Jones?


January 14th, 2010
3:14 pm

Barnes has elevated hypocrisy to an art form. Raise your feet, folks…’s getting deep!


January 14th, 2010
4:18 pm

Legislators are allowed to purchase UGA season tickets, at face value, without a contribution. That’s a pretty nice benefit in itself. But especially nice considering the 55,000 season tickets that are sold only after a minimum $250 per year, per seat contribution, with a total of about $6,000 currently required to even get in the door. So, regardless of where you stand politically, that’s a nice benefit. Not to mention one that can be easily parlayed by selling extras on the street, which legislators have been known to do.

Bobby Anthony

January 14th, 2010
4:44 pm

As a teacher from McDuffie County, I will actively work to make sure Roy will not have the opportunity to get a free ticket. It seems Roy told a Superior Court Judge in Augusta,Georgia he is on the sawdust trail. Referring to old tent revivals in Georgia where people sought redmption from the Lord. Well Roy be thankful that Jesus forgives, but I don’t think very many educators will. Teachers tend to vote Democratic, but I will vote Republican again if you are on the ballot. Most of the teachers in this county have said they will do the same.


January 14th, 2010
6:25 pm

BA…suppose you think sonny and kathy are doing a good job?

Dunwoody Dan

January 15th, 2010
11:27 am

Roy Barnes steals from the rich and the poor to help fill his own pockets. Does anyone else think his wife looks like Shrek?