State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor, this afternoon is pushing out his approach to ethics reform at the state Capitol.
It’s short, so we offer his press release in its entirety:
“It is unconscionable for our Georgia Ethics Commission to have to beg for money from the very people that they are trying to watch over,” said John Oxendine. “I have some ideas that I hope the legislature will thoughtfully consider.”
“First, the Ethics Commission should be established as an independent body with a funding mechanism which is free from political interference. This minimum funding can be accomplished in part by an appropriate lobbyist registration fee assessed to for-profit lobbyists.
Also, any candidate for state office should pay at qualifying a dedicated fee which will be used to fund the operation of the Ethics Commission. An exemption to this fee should be made available for individuals and entities who can demonstrate financial hardship. In addition to the revenue generated from these fees, a minimum funding level should be established for the commission and protected from legislative intervention.
“While I recognize that this will not provide all that is required, I see this as an important first step to provide an independent source of funding for the oversight work of the Ethics Commission.
“Second, in addition to adequate enforcement powers, the Ethics Commission’s emphasis should continue to be focused on providing absolute transparency for government activities. The Commission should work to make more records available to the public over the internet and make the Commission a reliable repository of user-friendly information related to government activities.
“Third, the Ethics Commission’s rule-making authority should be re-established so that any statutes not clearly defined will receive additional clarification.
“Fourth, newly elected state legislative and executive officials must complete an ethics course within 120 days of the certified results of their election. This course will be developed within our University System, and will educate public officials not only on the existing laws related to ethics, but provide guidance on what is expected of us as public servants.
“Finally, a clearly defined statutory code of ethics should be reviewed and updated. The State Ethics Commission should be given appropriate authority to investigate any violation of the code.
“I trust we can all agree on the importance of well-defined ethics laws and an independent body to enforce them,” said Oxendine. “I think these simple changes will allow for meaningful oversight and establish the Ethics Commission as an independent body. I applaud the members of the General Assembly for their hard work on this matter and offer any assistance going forward.”
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