Advocates of a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers will be at the state Capitol this morning to begin a 13-city bus tour pushing a “yes” vote on the July 31 Republican ballot question addressing the issue.
It will be led by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who will also be attending a called meeting of the Senate Ethics Committee. Which may or may not be – the sessions are closed to press and public – considering a complaint lodged against Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville.
On the same topic, House Speaker David Ralston on Wednesday indicated that, rather than a cap on gifts, he’d rather see more secure funding for the panel formerly known as the State Ethics Commission. Ralston made his remarks on the last of a four-day swing through the state by House Republican leaders. According to Jon Gillooly and the Marietta Daily Journal, Ralston said:
”I am not opposed to real ethics reform. … I think the cap is a gimmick, frankly.
“I have said all along: I think the choice that we ought to give Georgians is the current system provides for openness, for transparency, it lets y’all write stories about every nickel and dime that gets spent on us, and I think that gives information to people, and I trust people with that information. …
“Let’s take a look at giving the ethics commission or the transparency and openness commission the resources to do their job, let’s give them autonomy to do their job, so that they are truly independent, and let them deal with real problems rather than try to sell this idea of a cap out there.”
Ralston also said he expected some regions of the state to reject the transportation sales tax — and isn’t too sure of its outcome in metro Atlanta.
On Tuesday, 9th District congressional candidate Martha Zoller, the former radio talk show host from Gainesville, issued a press release claiming the endorsement by the American Conservative Union’s political action committee.
After contacting the ACU, the rival Republican campaign of Doug Collins was informed that this was not so. It immediately labeled Zoller a liar. “Martha Zoller should retract her statement and publicly apologize to every voter she has blatantly misled with this inaccuracy,” Collins said.
Late Wednesday, ACU spokeswoman Laura Rigas declared that her organization was to blame for the confusion:
“The American Conservative Union does not endorse candidates. Our ACU PAC, however, does endorse candidates but has no plans to endorse a primary candidate in the race for the Republican seat for the 9th Congressional District of Georgia. We mistakenly communicated that an endorsement had been made where there was no such endorsement. We accept responsibility for this mistake and apologize for any inconvenience. Both candidates are strong conservatives and we wish them well.”
That debate in north Fulton County between Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock and Republican challenger Brandon Beach of Alpharetta has stirred up plenty of dust. For those of you still interested, Bob Pepalis of Alpharetta-Milton Patch has posted some great video on the portions of the debate dealing with casino gaming and charter schools. Pepalis intends to post another segment this morning on the discussion of school vouchers.
The Douglas County Sentinel this morning reports that a local argument over an endorsement appears to have been settled:
A tweet sent out Tuesday by civil rights leader Andrew Young appears to have ended a controversy over which Georgia House District 62 candidate the former Atlanta mayor was endorsing.
In Twitter language, the tweet reads, “Andrew Young endorses Marvin Arrington Jr. for Georgia House District 62.” The account, @AmbAndrewYoung, has almost 3,000 followers.
Arrington and fellow candidate LaDawn Blackett-Jones have gone back and forth over the endorsement. Jones struck first with a press release in mid June announcing Young’s endorsement of her, but Arrington fired back last week, saying Young was not only endorsing his campaign but appearing at a fundraiser.
Georgia Equality on Wednesday issued its list of endorsed candidates – which you can inspect by clicking here. Missing from the roster is any pick in the state House contest between Democratic incumbents Pat Gardner and Rashad Taylor, who have been lumped into the same District 57 in Atlanta.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider