Expense reports show lobbyists’ generosity with Cobb lawmakers
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
April 18, 2012 12:13 AM | 4467 views | 6 6 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb lawmakers enjoyed expensive dinners, tickets to the circus and other perks courtesy of lobbyists during this year’s session of the General Assembly.

Cobb school board member David Morgan, a lobbyist with American Federation for Children, spent quite a bit on advertising with state Reps. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) and Sheila Jones (D-South Cobb).

On Jones, Morgan is listed spending $960 on March 26 for “grassroots outreach lobbying efforts” and $1,751.55 for “advertising in support of charter schools” on March 28.

Jones, though, said she has no idea what those expenditures were for.

For Evans, Morgan reported spending $972 on “grassroots outreach lobbying efforts” on March 26 and $2,303.90 for “advertising encouraging support of charter schools.”

Evans said an aide told her about a robo-call in support of the charter school constitutional amendment and speculated that perhaps that could have been the source of the expense, but like Jones, she didn’t know why Morgan reported spending money on her, either.

Morgan did not respond to a request for comment.

Including the money listed by Morgan, lobbyists spent a total of $3,344.19 on Evans and $2,729.24 on Jones this session.

Lobbyists’ expense reports are filed through the state ethics commission, and these figures come from those reports.

According to those filings, state Rep. Don Parsons (R-east Cobb) garnered $1,249 in lobbyist spending since January. Parsons chairs the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.

His gifts included $200 for a hotel room and $122 for dinner at the annual Electric Cities of Georgia meeting on March 24, courtesy of Walter Cuyler West of Electric Cities of Georgia, Inc.

Lobbyist Richard Moore of AGL Resources paid $146.03 for Parsons’ dinner on Jan. 18 and $76.92 for dinner on Feb. 28, and Stephen Loftin, representing the Cable Television Association of Georgia, bought Parsons a $104.55 dinner on Feb. 29. Chevron Corp. lobbyist Cynthia Garst paid $56 for Parsons’ dinner on March 28.

New state Rep. John Carson (R-east Cobb) was another favorite target, receiving meals and goods worth more than $1,200 during the session. Among those buying him meals were Jerry Keen of Kut Kwick, who spent $66.33, and Haydon Stanley of Fiveash-Stanley Inc., who spent $50.56.

State Rep. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb) received just over $1,000 worth of food and other items from lobbyists. Among his meal-ticket purchasers were Patricia Page Chastain of the University System of Georgia, who spent $111.57 for dinner, and Raymon White of the National Rifle Association, who spent $77.26.

“It does not influence my vote,” Dollar said of the gifts. “My vote is not for sale for a dinner or for any amount of money. A lot of times it’s considered an extension of the work day because we’re so busy between floor session and meetings — it’s a way of continuing to do business with legislators.”

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, a Woodstock Republican, repaid all of the $1,304 in lobbyist meals and other goods filed under his name, according to the website.

Sen. Judson Hill, an east Cobb Republican, took in the most among Cobb’s five state senators at $992.82. Hill received $320 worth of NCAA basketball tournament tickets from William Miller Jr. of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and at least two $95 dinners, one each courtesy of lobbyists working for Select Management Resources.

Here are other lobbyist disclosures, by state lawmaker:

State Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta): Total of all meals and goods received was $261. Keith Hatcher of the Georgia Association of Realtors spent $100 on Thompson (D-Marietta) for “lunch for a school group” on March 27 and $68 on dinner on March 14.

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-West Cobb): Total received was about $262. Kevin Curtin of AT&T paid $72.98 for Tippins’ dinner in January.

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth): Total received was $92, including lunch worth $38 paid by Russell N. Sewell, representing the state bar of Georgia.

State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell): Total received was about $278. Don Barbour of AT&T paid $100 for dinner for Rep. Morgan and her mother. Benny Frank Forehand of Georgia Power spent $106.80 on dinner for Rep. Morgan and two staff members.

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-South Cobb): Michael Wall of Comcast shelled out $150 for Wilkerson and his wife to attend the Center for Family Resources’ annual Oscar party on Feb. 26. That was the only lobbyist expense reported for Wilkerson.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs): Total received is $262. Joshua James Mackey of Brock Clay Government and Public Affairs spent $65.69 on Ehrhart to sponsor prizes for Boy Scouts Day at the Capitol. Chandler Carter Haydon and Raymon White, both working for Select Management Resources, spent $55 each on food and beverages for Ehrhart on Feb. 23.

State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna): Total received is $200. Scott Maxwell of Mathews & Maxwell, Inc. paid $200.18 for Stoner and a staff member’s dinner on Feb. 15.

State Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta): Total received was $820. Curtis Hart of Georgia Power spent $62.38 on Manning’s dinner on Jan. 31. Thomas Carlton Lewis of the University System of Georgia spent $87.75 on Manning’s dinner on Feb. 28. John “Trip” Martin of Georgialink Public Affairs Group spent $130 on dinner for Manning and her husband on March 5. Boyd Pettit of Feld Entertainment spent $105 on Manning’s circus tickets on Feb 15. And Brandon Reese of WellStar Health System spent $300 for Manning and her spouse to attend the Cobb Chamber’s annual dinner on Jan. 28.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb): Total received was $184, including a $25 lunch courtesy of Donald Palmisano Jr., representing the Medical Association of Georgia.

State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna): Total received was just over $100. Lobbyist Boyd Pettit of Feld Entertainment bought $60 worth of circus tickets for Golick.

State Rep. Terry Johnson (D-Marietta): Total received was $226. Don Barbour of AT&T spent $150 on Johnson and his wife for dinner on Feb. 2. Pettit also bought $60 worth of circus tickets for Johnson.

State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta): Total received was just over $400. Raymond White of Select Management Resources spent $99.52 on Teasley.

Teasley said he has made it a point not to accept any “extravagant” gifts from lobbyists.

“In some cases, it has been an unexpected experience where gifts have been given with little to no personal interaction between the lobbyist and me,” Teasley said. “For example, a group representing the dental profession may leave a bag of toothpaste, a toothbrush, and dental floss, or a south Georgia Chamber of Commerce may leave a basket featuring items promoted in their county.”

— News Editor Kim Isaza contributed to this report
Comments
(6)
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mk I-85/I-20 growth
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April 19, 2012
Wow,.. all this elbow rubbing & late nite dinners,... yet all the good growth is the eastern side of Atlanta!

Baxter coming from Illinois- to Social Circle- that's BIG!! 1500 high paying jobs!

Also, the presentation is today for the casino style mixed use development in Norcross. He's got Hershal Walker on board! That will be huge! Following , will be big news for the GM Plant!

(my prediction)

Marta will also start a line through that corridor.

Gwinett & all I-20 east counties- that's where the ACTION is.

One day Ott & Lee will face reality!

South Cobb has been ignored too long,.. and the chickens are roostin'!!
Pat H
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April 19, 2012
Don Parsons has never responded to any of my attempts to contact him, yet the lobbyists seem to have no trouble. If he would just provide his address and his schedule of mowing his lawn, I would be happy to visit to ask him my unanswered questions.
No Undue Influence?
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April 18, 2012
Right! If Georgia Assemby members truly want to imply there was no undue influence exerted, then they would pay for their own meals, sporting event tickets, etc. Yes, dinner could be considered an extension of the work day -- especially a long one -- but who pays does matter to your constituents!!! Pay from your "government salary" for all your excursions!!!
COBBCSI
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April 18, 2012
Maybe Sam Teasley can led some ethics’ reform and get our good Buddy Sam Olens to get us out of 50th place in ethics reform. Do you think Chip Rogers or David Ralston would let that happen not likely? We also hear Chip Rogers and Don Balfour are trying to say they weren’t behind your fist amendment rights attack SB 469 this should be fun to watch. The MDJ should do a story on that SB 469.
Disgusted withit
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April 18, 2012
Cobb lawmakers receiving and accepting payments in money or in kind in return for voting for or against items under consideration is so morally corrupt it is sickening! This is not criminal only because our lawmakers have decided that they want it like it is. I am ashamed!
SouthernGal
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April 18, 2012
Lobbyist gifts should be reported as income!
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