At the tail-end of a 13-minute interview posted by Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), Gov. Nathan Deal – who has had some unpleasant experiences in this particular area and might be considered a skeptic – declared himself indifferent to a $100 (per day) cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers.
Said the governor:
”I would simply point out that we put in place a zero-gift ban for the executive branch of government. The press has never seen fit to talk about that, so I’m not so sure if the legislative branch adopts any reforms, that the press is going to give them credit for doing it.
“I think if people want to see improvements in ethics reform, for example, they ought to acknowledge the reforms that we have in place. It is ironic that several years ago, the current ethics laws that the state of Georgia has in place was regarded as one of the best in the country. And I think people don’t need to lose sight of that fact now.
“Whether or not the General Assembly decides to impose a gift ban or gift limit in some regard, that is certainly their prerogative and one that I don’t think the executive branch should try to dictate to them what to do.”
O’Hayer then asked whether the panel formerly known as the State Ethics Commission requires more reliable funding. Said Deal:
”There again, the media didn’t give any credit to the fact that we put $200,000 additional funding into that commission this past cycle. Certainly we believe that they have to have adequate resources in order to do what they’re required to do. And it is a big job. The scope of what they’re examining, reaching all the way down to local officials, is indeed a big scope. But we did put $200,000 – I think I recommended $250,000, but I think in the final product it came out to an additional $200,000.”
Might the panel expect more funding?
”We’ll have to see. I want to see how the $200,000 is spent. If it’s spent appropriately, I think the General Assembly will take that into account….”
Any advice on how Republicans should vote on the gift-cap proposal on the July 31 primary ballot?
”They’re going to vote the way they believe. I was not consulted about putting it on the ballot, since I’m not on the executive committee of the GOP. That was their decision. I’m sure that the voters in the Republican primary will express their opinion as they see fit.”
A couple respectful corrections are required here. First, the governor is indeed a member of the executive committee of the state GOP – albeit only one of 68 or so.
Secondly, the media has in fact acknowledged Deal’s gift ban for state employees – at least inasmuch as it has been ignored. From a May 6, 2012 article by my AJC colleague Chris Joyner and Aaron Gregg, an Emory University journalism student:
On his first day in office, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a lobbyist gift ban for state employees, but 16 months later, dozens of officials have taken thousands of dollars’ worth of tickets, meals and travel from special interests.
Executive branch officials under Deal’s authority took at least $25,000 in lobbyists’ gifts since the order took effect in January 2011, according to state records….
Their joint investigation found that some senior officials appeared to have close relationships with lobbyists. In one email exchange, for example, a department commissioner told a lobbyist, “Keep this btwn you and me.”
The governor’s spokesman, Brian Robinson, argued that “we’ve had, for the most part, strict adherence to the rules.” But in view of the AJC’s findings, Robinson said, Deal has reminded department heads to follow the rules. “He expects everyone to comply with the order,” he said.
The New York Post says Cory Booker has lost his mojo:
Newark’s mayor, who was gunning for a spot in President Obama’s Cabinet, lost the chance after he shot his mouth off during a blunderingly honest TV appearance last month, sources [said].
“He’s dead to us,” one ranking administration official said of the prevailing feelings at the White House and Obama headquarters in Chicago.
Booker had been angling for the housing secretary gig in a second Obama term, according to sources in the administration and close to the mayor.
The Gallup organization this morning breaks down presidential support by religion:
Mormon registered voters overwhelmingly support the candidacy of the first major-party presidential candidate of the Mormon faith, with 84% saying they would vote for Mitt Romney, compared with 13% who prefer Barack Obama.
Obama, meanwhile, enjoys solid support from Jewish voters, 64% to 29%.
Gallup previously analyzed the preferences of the major religious groups in the United States. Currently, Protestants favor Romney by 52% to 40%, nonreligious voters favor Obama by 65% to 25%, and Catholics are evenly divided between the two (46% Obama, 45% Romney).
Jews and Mormons each make up 2 percent of the U.S. voting population.
Wright McLeod, the Republican candidate looking to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow, is still struggling to explain his vote in the ’08 Democratic presidential primary.
But he has expounded more credibly on a $7,100 donation to Rob Teilhet, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, he made two years ago. From Larry Peterson and the Savannah Morning News:
McLeod said Teilhet, who he said recently made a contribution to his campaign, was one of several people who were “very kind to me and my family” when they were in law school.
“We had three children and I was still in the reserves,” the former U.S. Navy aviator said. “I would leave on Wednesday and miss classes on Thursday and Friday.”
Teilhet and others would pass class notes on to him, critique his papers and coach him in study groups, he said.
“They were a lot of help,” McLeod added.
If you were to ask whether President Barack Obama is better off today than he was last week, the answer from Republican Mitt Romney would be pretty clear. From the Washington Post:
Romney and the Republican National Committee said Thursday that they raised a combined $76.8 million in May, which is nearly as much as the presumed nominee brought in during the GOP primary season. Obama and the Democratic National Committee amassed $60 million in what was their best month so far, campaign officials said.
Romney’s monthly haul serves to undercut Obama’s reputation as the nation’s preeminent political fundraiser and signals a growing confidence among Republicans that the former Massachusetts governor has a strong chance of defeating the incumbent. The money woes add to the worries facing Obama, who is struggling with a wheezing economy and precarious approval ratings.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider