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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