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