A unique way to greet the return of the Legislature to the state Capitol this morning, from Greg Bluestein and the Associated Press:
The FBI has assembled a new squad to investigate corruption among judges and legislators in Georgia, though the top federal agent in the state is being tightlipped about what cases are developing.
Brian Lamkin, who heads the FBI office in Georgia, [said] he decided to form the team after months of reviews and a look at the bureau’s long-term priorities.
Georgia’s FBI office has long used a single squad that handled the brunt of corruption cases, from law enforcement officials to government officials. But Lamkin set up a special team to look into wrongdoing by police and other law enforcement officers and landed string of recent corruption charges. That team will still check out officers while the second new corruption squad will have a different goal, he said.
“It impacts the everyday system. It’s not just a dirty law enforcement officer that might be shaking you down,” he said.
“You’re talking about people that you elect to an office to represent you who try to line their pockets.”
Lamkin will personally sign off on the investigations before they go forward, and high-profile cases will be approved by FBI officials in Washington, he said.
“The reason is a corruption investigation can ruin reputations,” he said. “These are not quick hits. We will use sophisticated techniques and undercover operations to really go after these. That’s why the individuals that work these have to be patient.”
Lamkin wouldn’t say how large the team is, but he said he’s assigned about 40 percent of the staff in the bureau’s white-collar crimes unit to the mission.
The move was welcomed by government officials, who believed state and local funding cuts over the last few years have eroded other investigations.
“I just appreciate it. One of the frustrations you hear is that with the state budget cuts, you don’t have the resources to hire more investigators,” said state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, who chairs the House Ethics Committee. “This brings another much-needed level of scrutiny to the system.”
Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson, who has asked the FBI to investigate deputies at the Fulton County Jail for wrongdoing, applauded the new oversight. That probe led to charges in June against four guards accused of smuggling drugs and cell phones into the jail.
Jim Burriss and WABE (90.1 FM) report this morning that Delta is backing a compromise in that congressional fight that, only weeks ago, led to a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration:
Now, Delta says it will back a pro-union provision at the heart of the accusations, but with at least one condition. Voting out a union needs to be just as easy as voting one in, says Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.
“We would be supportive of an equal decertification process that gives employees the right to change their minds and to decertify a union in the future,” she [said].
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said he supports the Barack Obama administration’s decision to offer wholesale waivers to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and Georgia’s decision to pursue the same.
While a member of the U.S. House, Isakson helped draft No Child Left Behind in 2001.
He believes Adequate Yearly Progress, which serves as a measure of year-to-year student achievement on statewide tests, has served its purpose.
“We put AYP in there, and we knew when we did it that the better schools did that the harder it would be the next year to meet AYP, and that was the intent of it,” Isakson said. “It has served a purpose, and it’s right to offer waivers on AYP.”
This weekend, the Fulton County Republican party’s executive committee unanimously adopted a resolution to include all of Buckhead and Sandy Springs into the 6th Congressional District now represented by U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell.
Georgia Democrats have scheduled a 9 a.m. rally today at the state Capitol. Topics will include the HOPE scholarship, illegal immigration and redistricting.
Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Revenue Commissioner Doug MacGinnitie are to announce the winning design for a new state license plate at the Capitol this afternoon. The contest ran up against a bit of controversy earlier this summer after confusion arose over whether the motto “In God We Trust” would be on the new car tag. A new round of voting was required.
A House panel studying whether Georgia should allow betting on horse racing is set to hold its first meeting today, with testimony from representatives of various racehorse breed groups.
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today looks at whether – if passed next year by several regional groups – a sales tax for transit funding might be the largest tax increase in Georgia history.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider