House Speaker: Liberal groups seek to divide GOP over ethics

COLUMBUS, Ga. — House Speaker David Ralston closed out the first day of the state GOP convention by warning delegates away from a movement to rebuke the Legislature for its refusal to accept a cap on gifts from lobbyists.

The House speaker came close to accusing those associated with the movements of consorting with liberals. His message came at the end of a 10-minute speech that closed out the afternoon session.

And if the body nearly 4,000 delegates and alternates decides to pass a resolution endorsing a gift cap, Ralston strongly hinted that he would ignore it.

The speaker began his speech by listing the accomplishments of the Legislature over the last two years, including a major anti-illegal immigration bill in 2010 and a measure passed this spring to shorten the period during which a woman can seek an abortion.

But he closed with this:

”In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide us. There are those who would sow the seeds of dissension and discord in order to advance a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party.

“Let me be very clear. Regardless of the course that others may take, as for me and the people’s House of this state, we are going to stand united, working hard, standing Republican shoulder to Republican shoulder, to make Georgia a better state – and not align ourselves with media elites and liberal special interest groups. …”

At the Capitol this year, ethics reform was pushed by a coalition that included both tea party elements, conservative Republicans, and consumer groups – some of which indeed have ties to Democrats. Others do not. Afterwards, my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin and I asked the speaker who he was targeting with his remarks.

“I’ll let the people out there determine that,” Ralston said.

When we pressed, Ralston said this:

”There’s been some continuing chatter, and you know, every once in a while I think that part of my job as Speaker is to remind people that I represent a caucus that are basically good people doing good jobs.The inference by some on this issue suggests otherwise.

“My whole point was that… you can’t be united as a party and be in bed with groups like Common Cause and Georgia Watch. These are very liberal groups, that have no interest in seeing a Republican agenda succeed. It’s pretty simple.”

Told of an effort to put the matter of ethics reform not just before the convention, but on the July 31 primary ballot, the speaker alluded to his long-held position that making the relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists transparent was the most effective way of preserving legislative integrity – and that a gift cap would drive evidence of those relationships underground.

But here is what he really said:

”Are they going to ask them if they love their mother? I’m serious. The question really ought to be, do you want to know who’s lobbying what issues, or do you not want to know?And if we have this, you’re not going to know.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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41 comments Add your comment


May 18th, 2012
5:35 pm

This is a joke. Even the Tea Party, hardly a liberal group, is calling for ethics reform.


May 18th, 2012
5:46 pm

One-party rule: whether Democrat or Republican, the citizens lose in the end. Speaker Ralston is starting to sound like Don Balfour – “We been doing this 20 years and I keep getting re-elected.”

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 18th, 2012
5:46 pm

“House Speaker to GOP: Liberal groups behind ethics push”

Which, of course, makes ETHICS in government all wrong, doesn’t it? Because as we all know, liberals are ALWAYS wrong, even if the issue involves attempting to force corrupt politicians to stop taking payoffs from the highest bidder.

So I guess that the headline should read “So-called “Conservative” lawmakers oppose push for ethics in government”.

Although, I will admit that I didn’t know that the Tea Party, which is actively leading the ethics push here in Georgia, was a “liberal” group.


May 18th, 2012
5:48 pm

He needs to say away from cheese cake. It clouds his mind.

Hypocrite Hunter

May 18th, 2012
5:50 pm

Spoken like the beneficiary of tens of thousands of dollars of family vacation trips to Europe, the benefits enjoyed by his clients of a now thriving law practice, the shared value of the cut of largesse from other legislators…all from a guy that a few years ago had major embarrassing financial problems.

Three Jack

May 18th, 2012
5:50 pm

Ditto mary.

If it weren’t for crooked politicians, we would have no politicians at all. Ralston wants to blame everybody but the real scumbags including himself ($17,000 family trip to Europe bought and paid for by lobbyists). These clowns cannot get booted out of office soon enough!


May 18th, 2012
6:04 pm

As to the last quote, Mr. Speaker, we don’t know now and you make it as difficult as possible to know. There is little transparency in our state, whenever I look, everything is opaque.

Not so much

May 18th, 2012
6:06 pm

We are simply doomed in GA. We will have to settle for mediocre or worse. It is a shame.

Political Mongrel

May 18th, 2012
6:12 pm

Ralston is a disgrace to his office. But then again, he always has “liberals” to blame for his every problem, even when his problem is actually other conservatives.


May 18th, 2012
6:21 pm

does this guy look like he feeds at the public trough or what


May 18th, 2012
6:32 pm

So if we are not supposed to have a law limiting bribes from lobbyists because it would only make the people breaking the law more devious than they already are, why precisely was David Ralston bragging about how great the immigration law limiting immigration is? Why won’t limits on THAT brand of borderline criminal activity just drive it further underground?

Rightwing Troll

May 18th, 2012
6:51 pm

Don’t like it? Maybe he won’t allow it on the ballot, but there’s a ballot that he can’t stop, and that would be next time he and the rest of the crooks are up for re-election…

You have the government you elected, none of them ever indicated they would do anything about ethics… the chickens come home to roost.


May 18th, 2012
6:52 pm

And Ralston is 1 of the moderates!


May 18th, 2012
6:57 pm

Beth Merkleson is going to be furious!

And she is certainly no liberal!!!

The General

May 18th, 2012
6:59 pm

Well, after reading his remarks, I just lost what little respect I still had for Ralston. What a putz. That bozo needs to go along with his co-conspirator in crime Don Balfour.

The General

May 18th, 2012
7:07 pm

So, since Ralston implied that only liberals want an ethical government, I guess by default he is saying the conservatives want an unethical government.

He is an ass.


May 18th, 2012
7:09 pm

CobbGOPer is so right. We have become such a red state that the GOP can do anything and get away with it. They know we will continue to re-elect them. In a two-party state, each party is a check and balance against the other. We get the representatives we vote for, so we deserve the crooks that we put in office. Sadly our electorate seems to be willing to accept mediocrity and corruption.


May 18th, 2012
7:30 pm

No wonder we’ve been named one of the most corrupt states in the country.


May 18th, 2012
7:42 pm

Ain’t monopolies great.Wake up citizens.

Bob Loblaw

May 18th, 2012
7:45 pm

@ Dave:

You can see anything you want at the Commission’s website. It’s as transparent as any state in the US.

Look before I leap...

May 18th, 2012
7:47 pm

In order to have ethics reform, don’t you need to have ethics in the first place?
Just wonderin’…

Martin Williams

May 18th, 2012
8:12 pm

Ethics is not an English word for GOP folks. The GOP folks don’t even know what the word ethics means. Oh, my bad. I believe it means Tax cuts that will never create jobs as always preach. Oh, then again it might mean telling people how to live there lives. Trying to tell other people how to live there lives is to me dictorship/communist style of governing. Better yet it is capitalism at the highest level.


May 18th, 2012
8:15 pm

the GOP has ethics? who knew.

Barry Schwartz

May 18th, 2012
8:24 pm

So, is he saying that Republicans don’t support ethics in the legislature. Could it be that he might be concerned that he and some of his cronies, from both parties, might be perceived to being influenced by gifts from lobbyists? His response that ”Are they going to ask them if they love their mother? I’m serious. The question really ought to be, do you want to know who’s lobbying what issues, or do you not want to know?And if we have this, you’re not going to know.” Who is to say that without teeth in an ethics law that the relationships are transparent. By the way I am a conservative, but it is getting harder to find individuals willing to do the right thing from the Republican party.

Big Hat

May 18th, 2012
8:40 pm

Secret government is the best government.


May 18th, 2012
9:32 pm

The subtle referencing of Patrick Henry in this cause – wow. That takes a lot of gall.


May 18th, 2012
9:39 pm

Taking a bribe or payoff should be as visible as the new drivers license”new or renewal law”makes the applicant.


May 18th, 2012
10:09 pm

The leftest are sure whining tonight.

1: Any and all lobbyist gifts should be immediately reported and available for the voters to access. If the voters of a district/county or state do not have a problem with what their representative is receiving then so be it. UGA football tickets, Falcons, Hawks tickets, free lunch or dinner is not big deal to me. Taking trips may be a bigger issue but it depends on what they are for and I would much rather the politicians taking trips on the lobbyist dime then mine.

2: If you Democrats would keep the libs out of the party and go back to a conservative philosophy then the voters of this state may consider voting for you again. If not then you will remain a very small minority after thought in this state for years to come.


May 19th, 2012
12:19 am

Liberals are morally and ethically more responsible than conservatives and Republicans in Georgia. David Ralston is corrupt and he is dragging down the State Legislator with his lack of honesty and leadership.


May 19th, 2012
12:20 am

Yes I know it should read State Legislature instead of State Legislator.

We liberals admit our mistakes contrary to the conservatives.

[...] Ga. — On Friday, House Speaker David Ralston tried to warn delegates to the state GOP convention away from a resolution to endorse a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers, declaring that [...]

[...] Ga. — On Friday, House Speaker David Ralston tried to warn delegates to the state GOP convention away from a resolution to endorse a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers, declaring that [...]

No Teabagging

May 19th, 2012
10:20 am

Oooh, David that is so mature, threaten them with the “L” word and ostracize them. What a bunch of fifth graders.


May 19th, 2012
12:28 pm

David Ralston and the Georgia GOP will be shocked when they realize Jesus Christ is a liberal. I guess then the Georgia GOP will be converting the Muslim faith and passing Sharia law.

[...] Ga. — On Friday, House Speaker David Ralston tried to warn delegates to the state GOP convention away from a resolution to endorse a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers, declaring that [...]


May 19th, 2012
3:23 pm

I thought David Ralston was a good man. He is not a good man, because he refuses to do the right thing. That’s what a good man does. A bad man accepts $17,000 European vacations for his family from lobbyists. Good. Bad. It’s really, simple David and you have chosen the wrong one.


May 19th, 2012
3:24 pm

Does Ralston think he is the smartest guy in the room? lol Who doesn’t see through his outlandish rant. If this doesn’t get him voted out then his district deserves having a dirty politician representing them. And he is the speaker of the GOP? What in the hell has happened to the Republican Party when guys who are openly sticking their hand out become their leader?

It doesn’t matter who’s in office, democrat or republican, until we get all money out of politics then we will never have people with the right motivations running for office. These guys are all bought and paid for and always put their interests ahead of what’s best for out state/country.

[...] is a plot by “media elites and liberal special interest groups” to divide the GOP, says Georgia House Speaker Tom Murphy David Ralston. ”In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, [...]


May 19th, 2012
4:46 pm

Republicans came into the majority promising a new dawn for Georgia, but damn if everytime Ralston speaks I hear Tom Murphy’s words coming out of his mouth. Turn the clock back 30 years and put Rs behind the names of the elected office holders then, and not a damn thing has changed.

[...] Thompson, Kay Godwin, Pat Tippett, and Dan Becker are shocked to learn that they are either liberal media elites or subversive Democrats.  I’ll post the full text of the press release they sent over protesting Speaker David [...]


May 19th, 2012
9:07 pm

Heck, Tom Murphy was a) SMARTER, and b) MORE conservative than Fat-As* Ralston.