Tim Echols on his Masters request: ‘It was a mistake’

The following article by my AJC colleague Kristi Swartz is raising eyebrows around the Capitol:

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols began criticizing his fellow commissioners for being too cozy with lobbyists even before he took office.

I am uncomfortable taking admission, taking tickets to sporting events from those that I regulate,” he said.

Yet, using official Public Service Commission letterhead, Echols went straight to the Augusta National Golf Club to request two complimentary practice round tickets to this year’s Masters, long after tickets had been distributed to one of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments through a lottery system.

Echols, rather than defending himself, is acknowledging the breach. He just sent the following in an unsolicited e-mail:

”The March 2 letter requesting my name be put into the practice round lottery should have been done on my personal letterhead. Period. It was a mistake.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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143 comments Add your comment

Buddy Hawkins

August 25th, 2011
11:26 am

And did he apologize for threatening an armed shakedown if he didn’t get the tickets? Sending the request on official stationary is the minor issue here.

ByteMe

August 25th, 2011
11:31 am

I suppose our state ethics board will get around to investigating it when they get some money.

Nicebowtie

August 25th, 2011
11:37 am

Can the clown!

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

August 25th, 2011
11:38 am

The ol’ boy asked for tickets and when he didn’t get them threatened to show up and create a mess by backing up the limos carrying VIP’s and personally checking out their licenses.

To my way of thinking, that’s a dang “shake-down” and should be dealt with accordingly.

Of course, it won’t because the Ethics Commission has been defanged by certain people who don’t like ethics investigations and Tim Echols has an “R” behind his name.

Glenn Lanier

August 25th, 2011
11:38 am

Mr. Echols,
Your mistake was an easy one to make, and if this is all you have to cover for you are a saint compared to most of your consticuency. Keep up the good work!
Glenn Lanier

That's Goofy

August 25th, 2011
11:43 am

I have Masters tickets and didn’t have to threaten or shake anybody down.

southside GOP

August 25th, 2011
11:43 am

Is this any suprise? Tim Echols is a Oxendine protege. This is exactly what Oxendine did to insurance companies and small lending institutions for years. The mistake was on the part of his opponents for not defining Echols for what he is: a little Oxendine.

For the democrats who try to use his “R”, the “R”s overwhelmingly rejected the shake-down artist in cheif (Ox) and did not know that Echols was connected.

[...] No, Tim Echols, it was more than “a mistake.” [...]

Road Scholar

August 25th, 2011
11:46 am

Ethics?! Who needs ethics? They’re Republicana!

Bucky

August 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

Jim, Y’all have posted the original letter to Augusta National. Could you also post his follow-up letter, after they didn’t kowtow to him, in which he said he was coming with an armed PSC employee to personally enforce the “limo laws”?

Chess

August 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

Good Ol boy shakedown for sure. White on white slim and non-ethical. I do declare.

- Foghorn Leghorn

R U Kidding Me?

August 25th, 2011
12:05 pm

One more time … U.S. Attorney Sally Yates WHERE ARE YOU?

There is more political corruption in Georgia than a whole room full of U.S. Attorneys can tend to! But the Obama appointed Yates continues to sit on the sidelines while the GOP politicians continue to line thier pockets. Here is a documented shakedown of Augusta National by an elected official. Any first year law student could get a conviction. But not Ms. Yates. I can’t believe Nathan Deal’s appointment of her husband to some meanial state board would buy her silence. Come’on Sally, grow a pair and start doing your job!

Clancy

August 25th, 2011
12:06 pm

He is barely into office and it went to his head just like oxendine.

Remember this guy at the next election and run him out office.

We voters are the ultimate ethics committee.

DannyX

August 25th, 2011
12:07 pm

Dear Friendly Failing Bank of Georgia,

I will be checking up on some limousine services and need your help. I will need a 2 million dollar signature loan made available to me so I can make sure the limousine service I use is in full compliance of the law. Please keep in mind that I have no intention of paying the loan back, the loan is being used solely for investigative purposes. While I’m there I would like to take the time to examine your electric bill so I can check for overcharges.

Tea Party Forever xoxoo,
T. P. Echo-Chambers, PSC

Centrist

August 25th, 2011
12:11 pm

@ Bucky – If there is such a follow-up letter, he is not just unethical – but a criminal blackmailer.

He should resign for his “mistake”, and that should not be the end of it if there IS such a follow-up letter.

dbm

August 25th, 2011
12:17 pm

stupid is as stupid does..

TIM

August 25th, 2011
12:19 pm

The Public DIS Service Comm should be abolished. They don’t show up for work, the don’t care about who they serve, and they make up assinine reasons to take trips on the taxpayers dime. Time to fire all of them!!

tr

August 25th, 2011
12:21 pm

He should not have been making a special request on any letterhead. Should have gotten through the lottery or not at all. Great example of unethical behavior!

Centrist

August 25th, 2011
12:23 pm

Not sure if his email really goes to him, but on his website http://www.timechols.com/

Tim@TimEchols.com

Ashley

August 25th, 2011
12:31 pm

Lately theres one word that leaves a bad taste in my mouth….Lobbyist, and everything underhanded that goes along with it.

Fed Up

August 25th, 2011
12:33 pm

“One more time … U.S. Attorney Sally Yates WHERE ARE YOU?”

I’d like to echo the earlier comment made above. U.S. Attorney Yates needs to get busy with several outstanding ethics issues..start with the top, and the investigation of Governor Deal. We’re waiting and watching to see if her husband’s appointment prevent her department from perusing this. She needs to delegate it to an assistant attorney and recuse herself!

dixiesdemons

August 25th, 2011
12:39 pm

GOP values !!

Poleesemenses

August 25th, 2011
12:40 pm

This was a stupid, and selfish, attempt to gain favor for practice round tickets through his political position. Stupid: He says the letter was to “be put into the lottery for Monday practice round tickets.” The deadline for submitting the proper form for obtaining those tickets through the lottery system for 2011 was (I believe) July 1, 2010. Selfish: Using the letterhead to “promote” his position at the Georgia Public Service Commission. Glad he explained what the Commission does. Could this be a soft threat? Stupid again: WTF does knowing someone who was in the Olympic Torch Relay have to do with gaining priority in the ticket selection? Since golf at Augusta National was shot down and not approved that year as a sanctioned Olympic event, it seems like it would have hurt his chances!!! Mr. Echols, did you ride the short bus to school as a kid?

RememberDuaneAllman

August 25th, 2011
12:40 pm

What a complete jerk. Please God, bring the Democrats back to power….the Republicans are killing us with their hypocrisy!

Bucky

August 25th, 2011
12:45 pm

Centrist:
According to the article, there is such a letter. I quote:

“After getting no response to the March 7 letter, Echols sent a follow-up letter March 16 to Augusta National’s executive director, Jim Armstrong, announcing: “My intention is to spot check limousines that are serving patrons and professionals to make sure that these limousines are properly registered with the state of Georgia.”

In that letter, Echols wanted access to the grounds of Augusta National during the early rounds of the tournament so he could, with an armed Department of Public Safety official, check limo drivers to see whether they were properly licensed with the state. Augusta National denied Echols access, and he later called off the operation after pressure from other commissioners.”

Brenda

August 25th, 2011
12:55 pm

I want to see the follow up letter.

Aquagirl

August 25th, 2011
12:55 pm

Translation: “Whoops, got caught, sry! note to self: leave less paper trail next time.

Wondering

August 25th, 2011
1:02 pm

If you want to see the second letter, send a request to his office. Under the Open Records Act, he then has three days to respond.

Charles

August 25th, 2011
1:06 pm

Using State letterhead is only a minor infraction. In the letter he specifically mentions that he is a statewide elected official. So regardless of what letterhead he used, he believed that his position would get him the tickets. When the friendly request was ignored then he used the strong-arm approach. It was a mistake, then the second letter would never have been sent. He would have simply accepted the decision of Augusta National. He didn’t.

Proportionalist

August 25th, 2011
1:08 pm

Three days to respond is not the same as three days to deliver. He might take all year!

Carpetbagger

August 25th, 2011
1:20 pm

The US Attorney of Northern GA and her office is a joke. They’ll go after the easy ones. If there is any gray they’ll hide behind a busy schedule. Echols, Nathan Deal, Marvin Arrington, Mickey Lloyd, and the ilk can rest easy with this clown in office.

DannyX

August 25th, 2011
1:20 pm

The public needs another utility surcharge if consumers wish to compete with the lobbyists. Our Republican office holders understand one thing only,….MONEY. Go ahead and tack on a surcharge so the customer has a spot at the trough. The fund could be used to bribe our elected officials, rewarding them for occasionally doing what is in the public’s best interest.

The Snark

August 25th, 2011
1:21 pm

Where did you people get the idea that U.S. Attorney Sally Yates is responsible for policing state ethics violations? She is responsible only for enforcing federal criminal laws, not state ethics codes. That lies in the hands of the Republicans who control the … oh, never mind.

PS Echols is a crackpot, pure and very simple. The other PSC commissioners have their problems, but at least they’re not crazy.

The Producer

August 25th, 2011
1:22 pm

Augusta Tourney Official

August 25th, 2011
1:23 pm

Don’t f#(k with me PSC fella, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo.

Double Zero Eight

August 25th, 2011
1:30 pm

Sounds like he is a protege of our current governor.
All will be forgiven as usual. “This too shall pass”
in Georgia.

clean up your yard

August 25th, 2011
1:55 pm

Once again the voters in Georgia show just how ignorant they are.

I agree about Yates.....

August 25th, 2011
1:55 pm

but what about the press’s pet Sam Olens? Is he going to get on this, or will he get another pass for passing on a chance to show he’ll take on someone who matters?

J Throckmorton Malcontent

August 25th, 2011
1:57 pm

Golf is Republican crack. One little white ball and soon they’re wearing plaid pants and acting like criminals. It’s sad, really.

Centrist

August 25th, 2011
1:57 pm

Olens passed on his Cobb County Public Safety Director, Mickey Lloyd, who later was thankfully forced to resign.

DogPound

August 25th, 2011
2:10 pm

How out of touch. The use of Stationery is what he calls a mistake? Doh! Its the treats and strong-arming and the extortion that matter, dumba**! Well, it now appears that we have a new “favorite target” who stepped up and, for no reason other than his own self deluded sense of importance, made himself a target for the AJC and all other media to target this jerk over, and over, and over again. It ought to be interesting.

Religious Wrong

August 25th, 2011
2:16 pm

This man is such a phony! Another one of those insincere, right-wing radicals that hides behind his religion and then shows no remorse when he’s outed. It’s time for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee…we have another one of these fanatics moving to the forefront now(TX Govenor Perry). It’s time for moderation!!!

Republican Activist

August 25th, 2011
2:17 pm

Tim better be careful about building up his treasures here on earth.

cash in

August 25th, 2011
2:25 pm

classic politician—lies about gifts to get elected—then starts shaking down connected companies right away with threats to investigate limos and drivers, so he can get pricey tickets to the masters? corruption—to the core. It never ends and is getting worse

Jed

August 25th, 2011
2:27 pm

Echols is almost as corrupt as the rest of the members of the PSC (seriously, the way they sell out Georgians to Big Utilities brings Judas Iscariot to mind). He just limits his corruption to driving that LNG car everywhere on taxpayers’ dimes and trying to use his position for graft.

As for many of the comments here, it has nothing to do with being “right wing” or a Republican. Corruption is corruption, it goes both (ideological) ways.

billy

August 25th, 2011
2:42 pm

what a complete arse this guy is…what an embarrassment to the State of Georgia….I live abroad and am so ashamed to be a Georgian after reading this….who cares what the political party….this guy is an idiot and completely crazy as hell….what is wrong with Georgia, mama????

jay

August 25th, 2011
2:45 pm

Extortion clear and simple. He should resign. No, he should be arrested.

honested

August 25th, 2011
2:50 pm

Wait a minute, why was a PSC member even involved in such a request?
I thought tickets were the responsibility of SouCo, GaNatGas and AT&T.
Shame on them for making this man soil his hands!

Centrist

August 25th, 2011
2:58 pm

In addition to emailing Echols directly requesting he resign – Tim@TimEchols.com,

suggest filing a complaint with the PSC for them to pressure him:

http://crs.psc.state.ga.us/Consumer/Contact/utilityIndustry.aspx?type=Complaint

double

August 25th, 2011
3:05 pm

Honested wonder why Bill Orfice White not posted he loves this Echols?