Ethics reform unlikely when Legislature has an entitlement mentality
March 15, 2012 12:01 AM | 2169 views | 10 10 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
So much for the theory that Tea Partiers are the tail that wags the conservative Georgia Legislature. And so much for the theory that the Legislature is supposed to be responsive to what the public wants.

If the Tea Party had the kind of influence that some like to accuse it of, the Legislature would have wasted no time this year passing ethics reform legislation. That’s because the Georgia Tea Party Patriots — in concert with Common Cause Georgia, the League of Women Voters and Georgia Watch, working under the umbrella of the newly formed Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform — all had joined together this year to push for such legislation.

And if the Legislature was as responsive to the public as it likes to claim, it would have passed such needed legislation long ago, rather than bottling it up in committee.

An ethics-reform bill was introduced in each legislative chamber this year. House Bill 1105 was written by Rep. Tommy Smith (R-Nichols). And Senate Bill 391 was offered by Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus).

Both bills were aimed at reducing the influence that lobbyists hold at the Capitol. The House bill was slightly stronger and would have set a $100 limit on spending by lobbyists and would have targeted not just spending on lawmakers, but on their families and office staff as well. In addition, it would have required members of all state boards, authorities and commissions, as well as the heads of state agencies, to file annual financial disclosure statements.

But the Senate Bill was sent by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to die a slow death in the Senate Rules Committee. And the House bill met a similar fate. Speaker David Ralston — who, you’ll recall, enjoyed a seven-day Thanksgiving junket to Europe in 2010 with his family in tow, ostensibly to look at high speed rail, with lobbyists picking up the entire $17,000 tab — assigned Smith’s bill to the House Rules Committee, from which it never re-emerged.

So lawmakers are free for another year to keep accepting lavish meals, trips, Super Bowl tickets and the like without having to look over their shoulders. So much for enhancing the public’s trust in those they elect. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a Legislature with an “entitlement mentality.”

Did you know that our state is one of only three in the country that allows lobbyists and others to give unlimited gifts to lawmakers? Just don’t call them “bribes” or “payments for access.”

Even Louisiana, where bribery is a way of life, has recently strengthened its ethics laws by putting gift caps in place. But not Georgia. Not this year.

At our state Capitol, the operative words are not “ethics reform,” but “Laissez les bontemps roulez” — “Let the good times roll!”

And the lobbyists — and their lawmaker friends and enablers — are rolling.
Comments
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JA Bolton
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March 17, 2012
When will voters put these crooks out of office instead of constantly reelecting them? What? Are you voters that stupid?
Hairold
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March 15, 2012
They already have the Bible. Why would they need ethics reform???
VFP42
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March 15, 2012
Did anyone really think the Southern Company would allow for ethics reform in their state? Please!
SG68
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March 16, 2012
@VFP42

The Southern Company aka Georgia Power.

I think you may have hit the nail right on the head.
Kevin Foley
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March 15, 2012
The Tea Party exposed for what it really is: impotent.

That's because it was never a "popular grass roots" revolt, but a cynical public relations campaign engineered by the billionaire Koch brothers' D.C. PR firm, FreedomWorks and pushed relentlessly by Fox News and conservative talkers ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

Not until Georgians finally understand just how poorly served they are by the Republican Party will we see ethics reform in the state house.
TIC
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March 15, 2012
Yeah right.

Things were so much better under Tom Murphy and Glenn Richardson.

As far as the Tea Party is concerned, I don't think they are any more effective or ineffective than any other group calling for ethics reform.

I say we put the Koch Brothers and George Soros in a room together and let them fight it out. To even the odds we will let Bill Maher team up with George.

Let's face it most politicians in our state legislature, whether they be Democrats or Republicans seem to be ethically challenged.

rjsnh
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March 15, 2012
Our legislators can make all the excuses they want but the fact of the matter is they lack the will to hold themselves accountable to ethical standards of conduct. They prefer to look the other way while they have their hands out for free meals, tickets, vacations and other such "perks" to which they feel entitled. It is a travesty that we should not tolerate. So, keep in mind every time you vote for an incumbent you are enabling this unethical conduct. If no one is running against an incumbent write your on name in or Mickey Mouse but don't vote for those who refuse to hold themselves accountable.
CobbCountyRedneck
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March 15, 2012
What's everyone so worried about?

You know in your hearts that the elected officials in our state legislature are honest to the core.

They would never even think of compromising their personal or political ethics, much less accepting any favors, monetary or otherwise, that might be construed as questionable.

We certainly don't need any legislation that compels them to toe the line.

Where is your trust?
SouthernGal
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March 15, 2012
Once again our "supposed leaders" have shown their true colors...

Get elected and then stick it to your constituents!
East Cobber
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March 15, 2012
As a tax payer and voter, this is very frustrating; the foxes watching the hen house. I will vote against every incumbent in the up coming election, and Hope, Hope the next one is better; but then again, I still believe in Santa Claus...
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