Republicans urged to ‘redeem’ past campaign pledges with tough ethics bill

Monday afternoon featured a joint meeting of the House and Senate Ethics Committee met to talk about legislation.

Sen. Dan Moody, chair of his chamber’s panel, made no mention of former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, but spoke of the “ethics reform opportunity” that the new year offers the Legislature.

According to my AJC colleague Cameron McWhirter, Republicans – who make up the majority in both the House and Senate – found themselves called out by an old GOP colleague.

Former House minority leader Bob Irvin of Atlanta spoke to the committees as chairman of Common Cause Georgia, a good-government group.

Irvin urged tighter lobbyist disclosure requirements and campaign contribution limits; an end to transfers between the campaign funds of different candidates; an independent ethics panel to review complaints; and a code of conduct for all legislators. His suggestions were met with stern faces and little comment.

Irvin said that when he took office in the early 1970s, Republicans – then in the minority – made ethics reform a cornerstone of their party platform. Before abortion or lower taxes.

“How can you as Republicans not take this opportunity to pass strong ethics legislation?” he asked.

“It was our original identity,” he said — “until we got into power.”

He said substantive ethics legislation remains “an unredeemed campaign pledge.”

“Now you can redeem that pledge,” he told the committee. “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

State Rep. Joe Wilkinson of Sandy Springs, the House ethics chair who introduced Irvin as a friend, took umbrage. He said the Legislature’s 2005 ethics reform improved ethics, though he said more can be done.

“We did stay true to our principles,” he said.

He said Irvin’s characterization was “something I just cannot accept.”

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17 comments Add your comment


January 25th, 2010
7:27 pm

Rep Wilkinson and the Republican Party in Georgia is “something I just cannot accept”. To quote one wise man, “Vanity, vanity; all is vanity”. Segregationist by any other name still have red necks.

jesse james

January 25th, 2010
7:55 pm

This is kind of changing the subject, but I would like to know why we can’t take the money that is being used to build new schools and put it to use in others areas that are so desparately needed. Not only do I see schools being built, but I see Taj Mahals being built. Some of these designs are a waste of money. I don’t blame the public for losing trust when you hear about 4 day school weeks, 160 day calenders, teachers being laid off, bus drivers laid off and other personnel being laid off, and larger classes, but you hear where new schools are being built. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to question that.

Road Scholar

January 25th, 2010
8:07 pm

I thought conservatives/republicans wanted an open exchange with the democrats, but the article only addresses the inclusion of repubs! I know it was a committe meeting, but don’t demo’s serve? Oh! That co-leadership only pertains to Obama!

Good Government

January 25th, 2010
8:29 pm

Thank you Bob Irvin. These guys don’t get it. Will someone please replace this defender of the status quo joe wilkinson…

perry roberts

January 25th, 2010
9:41 pm

We will never have good government until we make it against the law for any politician to accept anything from people trying to influence what laws are passed and what is not .If a person wants to be honest in politics the rule to adhere to is this—will it help most of the people of ga.(majority) —if not —vote against —we have passed too many laws that only pertain to a few — of course , the only person who qualifies for a tax break during these hard times is our governor(and on an out of state purchase) for a large sum of money.He also qualified for a gas tax break on his big farm—the rest of us were unqualified for that. perry roberts(yes I use to be a republician)Now I don;t respect anyone in public office—they can be had—with enough money

Cobb Taxpayer

January 25th, 2010
10:04 pm

Bob Irwin was always ahead of the times – intellectually and politically ! Keep charging Bob !


January 25th, 2010
10:15 pm

Just don’t make laws banning going hunting with lobbyists who donate to your campaign.


January 25th, 2010
10:17 pm

Bob, wished you didn’t lose the 2002 primary to Saxby. Come back to run for Governor!!!


January 26th, 2010
2:12 am

I am offended that Rep. Wilkinson took offense to Mr. Irvin’s on-target comments regarding ethics reform. Yes, the arrogant know-it-all needs to be replaced along with many of the other shallow leaders in the House and Senate. Most are there to look out for their own business/personal interests, not for the majority. For example, the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Jay Roberts: I have read several news reports that he was a close ally of Glenn Richardson. A good reporter would find an enlightening story concerning his and/or his father’s ownership of the St Mary’s Railway West in South Georgia. What happened regarding the serious environmental issues this company had last year that prompted the US Environmental Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division to come in with search warrants? This was all over the local papers, then suddenly nothing. Does his Committee have any oversight on railroads in Georgia? Just asking.

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January 26th, 2010
7:03 am

The House and Senate Ethics Committees do nothing. If you look at their records they never (yes, I said never) have any complaints of unethical activities. According to Wilkinson, this is proof that the Georgia House is clean as a whistle. These committees are not set-up to catch or stop unethical behavior. The only way to have real ethics reform is to create an independent watch dog.


January 26th, 2010
8:20 am

Wasn’t this same committee responsible for looking into the initial ethics violations of Richardson? Jus sayin’.

Paying Attention

January 26th, 2010
8:42 am

I have been following many of the Republican candidates for statewide offices for several months now. There are several great ones from which to choose, but one in particular stands out. Gerry Purcell, candidate for Georgia Insurance Commissioner has some great ideas, seems to know health care and insurance, and he is truly inspiring to listen to. Georgians need to get more involved with the political process. Take note of Gerry Purcell and others.

Wounded Warrior

January 26th, 2010
9:00 am

Ethics Committee is an oxymoron. They need to put all of the tax evaders in jail.


January 26th, 2010
10:37 am

“We will never have good government until we make it against the law for any politician to accept anything from people trying to influence what laws are passed and what is not.”

Um, the Supreme Court pretty much ensured last week that this will never happen. Exxon or SmithKlienGlaxoWelcomeBeecham can now pay as much as they want to produce campaign ads for their favorite oil or pharmacy-owned candidates, and buy as much ad time to run it as they want. The voice of the people cannot be heard over the voice of million$. It’s over.

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

January 26th, 2010
11:01 am

(pst…and it was the 5 conservative judges that did it….)

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