by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
January 16, 2012 08:56 AM | 1138 views | 2 2 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The Georgia General Assembly is once again going to debate ethics reform, at least create the appearance of a debate. It is remarkable that there is resistance to limiting what lobbyists can spend on our elected officials in order to “inform” and keep them abreast of issues. Recall that House Speaker David Ralston took his family to Europe during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010. Ralston defended the $17,000 trip, paid for by a lobbyist with an interest in transportation projects, by saying that he was there to look at different countries’ systems to provide some ideas for Georgia. Ralston responded, when asked why his wife and children accompanied him, by saying that he wasn’t going to spend Thanksgiving away from his family. I have always wondered what our American fighting men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan thought about Ralston’s hardship. But the best news stemming from this trip is that none of the cost of the trip and largess lavished on Ralston and his family had, or would have, any influence on his decision making. At least that’s what he said. Ralston maintains that the citizens should decide whether a legislator is being influenced and vote him out of office, but that no laws should limit how much is spent on legislators, who presumably do their best thinking over steaks, lobsters, lavish country clubs, sporting events, and the like.

Angela Spier, a former Public Service Commissioner, I presume would disagree with Ralston. She took money from no special interests whatsoever. If a lobbyist wanted to dine her, my understanding is that she would tell him to bring his bologna sandwich to her office, and she would bring hers, where the two would eat in and discuss issues. I wonder how many lobbyists took her up on that offer. Angela Spier represents the high water mark for ethics, and I hope that better judgment than David Ralston’s prevails at the capitol.  

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Mike Grier
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January 21, 2012
As we all know from many infamous examples, "follow the money". Lobbyists, and public officials who allow themselves to be influenced, should not be tolerated and their should be laws against that sort of thing.

What average American citizen has the same access as a lobbyist to the people they've voted for? None. Care to test that theory? Try writing to those you've elected. If you're lucky you'll get a form letter in reply. I know; I've done it. They are not listening to you and I.

Our political system is broken. Until we have campaign finance reform and term limits we are doomed to continue doing the same things expecting different results, which is the definition of insanity.

J.M.G.
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January 16, 2012
An interesting post, Agitator. Unfortunately, I think our public official’s view of right vs wrong has become terribly cloudy over the last few decades. For a group whose primary role it is to uphold the law, they continue to find ways to manipulate, re-write, and in some cases break the law when it's in "their" best interest. David's boondoggle across the pond is a great example.

I think your post on January 4 related to religion and government is extremely timely. While I don't proclaim to be an overly religious person, and I strongly believe that the government has no business in religion, I do believe that the government needs religion to set and maintain our moral and ethical standards that we should follow. Otherwise, the secular views around us begin introducing new rules and standards that conform to the disappointing actions we continue to see by our public officials.

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