Because a few incumbents and candidates have voiced their apprehension over the pledge to cap lobbyist gifts at $100, I felt compelled to address their misgivings and clear up some of the facts regarding the issue.
First and foremost, state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cobb) expressed doubt regarding whether or not a cap of any kind would improve misconduct by lobbyists, claiming other states with similar regulations are among the nation’s most corrupt. I challenge him and the legislative leadership to step forward and show the public which states have these problems, because our organization can find no correlation between lobbyist gift caps and increased corruption. From our research, it seems like the opposite is true — states that keep their lobbyists on a tight leash have less potential for corruption.
Secondly, State Rep. Matt Dollar accused the backers of the pledge to be “Obama Democrats.” The Lobbyist Gift Limit Campaign Pledge is in fact backed by three groups: The Georgia Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Conservatives in Action, and Common Cause Georgia. The CCGA board is made up a diverse set of both Democrats and Republicans, and it is hardly fair or appropriate to any of the organizations involved to label the pledge in such a way.
Thirdly, candidate Hunter Hill believes the pledge is a gimmick that would do little to change the way lobbying currently works in the state. I would ask Mr. Hill to take a look at recent polls that show 82 percent of Republicans support such reform. Ethics reform is a non-partisan issue, and we believe it is of the utmost importance to have a system that promotes and demands integrity.
All candidates should sign the pledge — not doing so is the real gimmick.
Common Cause Georgia