Perdue, Reed, Stephens = Culture of Corruption

Welcome to the New Georgia, where the GOP takeover of state government has brought the culture of corruption we see in Republican Washington right here to the Peach State. We have a Governor who is the first in Georgia history to be fined by the Ethics Commission, and who gets caught letting oil company lobbyists shut down the schools. Both of the Governor’s chiefs of staff have been lobbyists, as is his new director of legislative affairs. With the revolving door between special interest lobbyists and the Governor’s office spinning faster than the track wheel on Jack Abramoff’s Blackberry, we have a problem.

Governor Perdue is so cozy with the lobbyists that he couldn’t even adhere to his own Executive Order banning gifts from lobbyists. He just had to go to dinner with these folks and take free tickets and plane flights. Why pay for things like a regular Georgian when you can get a special interest lobbyist to pick up the tab? During the Governor’s tenure in the Senate, he was described as the “pet legislator


  1. buzzbrockway says:

    So Gov. Barnes NEVER met with, took money from, or received comments from lobbyists? LOL!

    Mr. Kahn, your efforts to tie Abramoff to all Georgia Republicans simply will not work. Furthermore, until the GOP gained the majority, Georgia had perhaps the weakest ethics rules in the nation. Your former boss did nothing to improve that sorry state of affairs. Governor Perdue and the GOP strengthened Georgia’s ethics code and the people of Georgia know it.

    If we want to talk about corruption, we could spend hours recounting the foilbles of Georgia’s Democrats – the most recent example being Senator Charles Walker who was convicted in Federal Court.

    Keep on signing this tune and the Dems will remain in the minority for a long, long time.

  2. Decaturguy says:

    Bobby, I don’t disagree with you on anything you said. I think that they are corrupt. However, you just seem to be getting a little bit too much pleasure from all of this and it comes across as hyper-partisan.

    If this is your strategy for getting Democrats back into power in this state, I don’t think it is going to work. OK, so they are corrupt. But, most people think the Democrats would be just as bad. So, what are the Democrats offering that will be different from the present? You don’t need to convince me, you need to convince Joe 6 Pack.

  3. Booray says:

    What Decaturguy said…

    As I recall it, y’all had a Dem political guy who was representing BOTH parties in the big telecomm contract. He just happened to be the political consultant you and Barnes used for your campaign work.

    And you criticize Perdue?

    This is just so much political BS. Best example – the Ethics Commission fined Walker less than they fined Stephens, even though Walker is now in a federal pen.

    It’s a sham and voters see through it…

    Booray Bussey

  4. Silence says:

    RGG, I was about to ask about who took down the most convictions of any elected official, any time in history…woops, I’ll be goldurned, it was the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Charles Walker. How many was it, now? Somewhere along the lines of 142? Oh, heck, I forgot about Ralph David Abernathy. That’s the fella that hides drugs in his tidy whities…now that’s real intelligent. And David Graves, now that’s a real corker for ya (no pun intended)…oops, dang, I forgot, he’s a Republican. Never mind.

    And that little legal stunt Judge Murphy pulled today in Rome? How’d ya pull that one off, Bobby? Who wrote that 125 page opinion, you, or the ACLU? No way Murphy got that done over night. That’s was a venue shopped, canned opinion. And I’ll be danged, cause Harold Murphy is none other than the COUSIN of our former imminent Speaker of the House, and former holder of Tom Murphy’s house seat.

    As we say in the South, now how bout THEM grits?

  5. Bull Moose says:

    Mr. Kahn, the problem is that the current Democratic party is just as broken as it appears the current Republican party is.

    What we need right now, are TRUE reform minded candidates.

    The best way to ensure that real reform happens and to maintain a system of checks and balances on power (which it appears the old saying is true — power corrupts) is to ensure a fair and non-partisan system of redistricting, both in Georgia, and across this country.

    The current system drawn by current office holders is nothing more than incumbent protection. Very few districts are truly competitive and in result, that gives way to a tyranny of the majority, beholden only to the most extreme elements of either party.

    I fundamentally believe that if given more competitive districts where candidates and office holders truly have to work, citizen/voters will be more apt to be drawn into the system and thus, through increased citizen/voter participation, some of the stuff that happens now would never survive.

    That is my simple solution to some of the problems we face.

    Another mechanical solution is to put a prohibition on hiring lobbyists turned staffers without a one year cooling off period. I believe currently, there is a one year cooling off period after serving, but evidence is showing that we may need to adopt a system in which lobbyists are forced to take some cooling off time from representing clients before working for taxpayers.

    If mainstreet common sense conservative Republicans were smart, they’d be adopting some of these common sense provisions now.

    So, Mr. Kahn, I agree with some of your assessments, but disagree that the correct response is to simply turn back to the Democrat party.

  6. Pappy says:

    There is more than a casual reference to partisanship in Bobby’s job description – partisanship is the description. As for convincing Joe sixpack, he’ll be a whole lot more receptive to Democratic “offerings” once he figures out that those with power are abusing it. The “culture of corruption” line may sound like a bit of a stretch to you, but many in our party whine incessantly when the party takes a more timid approach, meanwhile the public at large needs a decoder ring to figure it out! Either we’re going after these guys or we’re not. Ambiguity and subtlety are sooo 2004. How’s this for the Democratic alternative: not being corrupt!

  7. Rusty says:

    Heh. Fun fact for Chairman Kahn’s post: The word “lobbyist” or a variant of it appeared 12 times in 690 words. That’s once every 57 words or so.

    I want to know what the Democratic Party’s plans are to:

    – Prevent another natural gas crisis like the one that’s about to hit us this winter
    – Encourage high density development and mass transit improvement and usage (i.e. – why is MARTA the last mass transit system in the country without state funding?)
    – Crack down on big box retail stores that pack up and leave town without notice only to move a few blocks down the road, leaving hideous empty buildings that are difficult to put to a good use
    – Lure businesses to the state with incentives that don’t involve screwing workers out of wages or local governments out of tax revenue
    – Improve education. Businesses won’t set up shop here if the worker pool is composed of rubes. Sonny rivals only Barnes in how much he’s pissed off teachers, and Kathy Cox is a national laughing stock.

    I’m heterosexual and my girlfriend is on the pill, so I have a tough time getting worked up over gays’ rights to marry or abortion or whatever other BS wedge social issue the Dems are taking bait from the GOP on this week.

  8. Ike1 says:

    Kahn, Are you saying now that the Republicans are in charge, they have a monopoly on poor judgement? Someone earlier referenced that power corrupts – I am fairly certain it does not matter color or political party. I wonder how many times you went to a concert or ate dinner courtesy of a lobbyist and then was favorable towards that lobbyist regarding certain legislation when it came time for the Governor’s support? We all rationalize our own behavior and many times find ourselves being hypocrites, but refuse to recognize it as such. I understand your need to point out weak points on the Republican side, but just once I would like to see a political spinner admit that their side erred. Two of the politicians you pick on were Democrats for a long time.

  9. Bobby Kahn says:

    Ike1 – Will post more later, but I wanted to respond specifically to your question. I never went to a concert (sporting event or any similar event) with a lobbyist. When I went to breakfast, lunch or dinner with a lobbyist, or anyone else when I was in the Governor’s office, I paid for my own meal. You see, Governor Barnes imposed a gift ban — a broader one than Governor Perdue’s. And, unlike Governor Perdue, Governor Barnes complied with his own gift ban, as did people in the Governor’s Office, including me.

    Even after Governor Barnes was defeated — just a few weeks before leaving office — he attended a Falcons game with Arthur Blank. He paid for his own tickets. Contrast that to Governor Perdue, who accepted NASCAR tickets from lobbyists, flew on the Falcons airplane to Green Bay, etc.

    So its not just setting high standards, its living up to the standards you set. Governor Perdue would do well to remember the “Mike Bowers Rule”: If you claim to wear a white hat, dirt will be more obvious.

  10. Hammertime says:

    Let’s see. The Atlanta Chamber bought a new flag. Barnes gave ACS a huge no-bid contract that caused Georgia to fail an audit. Ethics reform was to INCREASE the donations allowed. Gerrymandered districts ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court.

  11. Hammertime,

    I know you aren’t going there with the flag because on a journey from Atlanta to Savannah, earlier this year, I counted at least 15 “Sonny Lied” signs on I-16 from Savannah to Macon.

    Don’t you go there or you’ll be opening up a can of worms that you ain’t willing to go fishing with.

    Regarding Bobby Kahn’s posting about the Culture of Corruption that seems to plague the Republican Party right now, although I’ll agree that while the Republicans don’t have a monopoly on corruption, corruption seems to follow them throughout history.

    From Iran-Contra (Reagan) to Watergate (Nixon) to the Teapot Dome Scandal (Harding) to the Black Friday Scandal (Grant), Republican presidential adminstrations have constantly dealt with accusations of corruption.

    But on the flip-side, whenever the Republicans have gotten this country into a mess, the nation has turned to the Democrats and 9 times out of 10, the Democrats have gotten the country out the mess that the Republicans got us in and returned our great nation back to prosperity.

    And if someone dares mention that Reagan got the nation out of Jimmy Carter’s mess, then let me just remind you that before Carter ever entered the White House, Gerald Ford sent out those incredibly stupid “Whip Inflation Now” (WIN) buttons.

  12. HeartofGa says:

    I agree that democrats must offer a positive alternative in order to win in 2006, (and I am confident that we will). Critical issues that impact Georgia families need the bulk of the attention, but, come on, when the post at the head of the page (Erick’s) is headlined, “Washington Ethical Mess”…if the shoe fits…Of course we should just give the republicans a pass. After all, republicans never point out the shortcomings of democrats…right.

    One final word. I don’t think it’s the best way to deliver the message, but I do think that it is entirely reasonable to expect that the chair of either party will be hyper-partisan.

  13. Booray says:

    Dear all,

    One thing caught my attention in all this: those “15 Sonny lied signs on I-16 between Macon and Savannah.”

    Those signs were probably all put up by one cranky flagger tootling down 16 with a flask of MD20/20 between his legs.

    That issue is D-E-A-D. If anybody thinks Perdue will lose votes to two candidates who both actively campaign against the old flag, they are smoking “Kahn’s Political Brainstorming Leaf.”

    Next issue…

  14. albert says:

    Look, lobbyist gifts and influence is part of the process. Unfortunately, many ON BOTH SIDES get sucked up by the FREE DiNNERS and gifts. The Dems squealed and fought the ethics legislation the last time it was introduced. Frankly, in my opinion, it didn’t go far enough.

    A couple of years ago I had the opportunity of accompanying our lobbyist at the Capitol. We took several of our legislators out to lunch, both Republican and Democrat. During lunch I was talking to the newly elected Dem. Senator and asked him about the experience being a freshman legislator. His response was honest and set me back laughing. He said, It was more than he ever anticipated. He said heck, you don’t even have to buy lunch or dinner. There is always a reception and a party. Whatever

    Another Rep. legislator indicated that much of the legislation is written by lobbyist and if a legislator finds it worthwhile he’ll introduce it.

    The fact is, there is a place for good lobbying. Good Lord, do you think for a minute this body has the ability to author and pass every piece of worthy legislation? The problem comes when their is abuse. Sadly it is frequent. The remedy is to elect good people to office. However, the field of qualified people willing to take part in the process is miniscule. Most people would rather sit back and lob bricks. Commentators come a dime a dozen, me included.

  15. Bill Simon says:

    Booray, it will not be a matter of the Flaggers voting FOR the Dem nominee for Governor. It will be a matter of either A) the Flaggers voting against Perdue, or B) the Flaggers not showing-up at all.

  16. Silence says:

    I have to agree with Booray, although I still think the Gov. is going to struggle: the flaggers aren’t an issue any more.

  17. Booray says:

    Mr. Simon,

    I concede you have a point to a degree. Guess I just don’t see people sitting out a hot gubernatorial campaign over that issue. Maybe 1,000 or so real firebrands, but those people seem so politically overheated not sure how they stay away – politics is part of who they are.

    Could be wrong. Oh well.

    I still don’t get how people think Sonny “lied.” He dropped the bill like they wanted, and as I recall it was Democrats in the House who killed the old flag as a choice. Sonny went along with it in the end, but nothing he could do about it anyway.

    The real hard-core types know that story, but I have a hard time believing the rest of the world does. And if they do, it sure didn’t hurt Republicans last year when we won the STate House with the “flag baggage” around our necks even more recently than in the coming election.

    Like I said, I pronounce the issue dead for all purposes. We’ll see if I’m right…


  18. stephaniemills21 says:

    The Governor’s baggage is different than the average House member. Go go to some of their websites (and they are a blast. Some of them have a lot of fun with photoshop) and see what they have to say. It was that they felt they were promised a vote on their flag by Sonny. THey even talk about a letter they have that says Sonny promised them a vote. It is that he lied to them, not that he changed the flag. Barnes already pissed them off with that, but Sonny used them (in their mind).

    Now, no one on here with half a brain will say that the flaggers who are still mad will be of much consequence in the election, but they could be one of many small groups who end up upseting Sonny’s re-election bid. They also have the effect of reminding the rest of the voters about Sonny’s quasi flip flop on the issue. Take that along with Sonny’s ethics problems (state plane, lobbyist stuff from BK, etc) and Casino Ralph and you can create a idea that the guy does what is best for him. No one issue alone will take out Perdue, but it is possible when they are all seen together. Doesn’t hurt when you have the Nat’l GOP flailing at the moment either.

  19. Ike1 says:

    Kahn, That is impressive if you never took a free ticket or ate a free meal courtesy of a lobbyist during your tenure at the Capitol, but I will add that I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with doing that. It is the character of the person if they allow themselves to get sucked in to the system of returning these “favors” – therein lies the inherent problem of ethics or lack thereof at the Capitol no matter which party is in control. I just did not appreciate the way you presented it in terms of Republicans doing this and therefore implying Democrats would never – yeah, right. Again, I recognize the fact that one of your responsibilities as the Georgia Democrat Party Chairman is to point out the weaknesses in the Republican Party and our candidates; however, it gets ridiculous at times. Both sides are guilty of it, but I guess that is one of the reasons politics can be so much fun – keeping one step ahead of your opposition can certainly be challenging and very interesting, I am sure. I did not read the comments afterwards, but I know there are people far more knowledgeable than me regarding Georgia politics who can give just as many insider examples of things Roy Barnes, and other Democrats, did while in office. The finger pointing can go round and round.

  20. ddreyer says:

    Ike1, Romegaguy, etc.,

    You seem to assert that Democrats can’t point out corruption in others because there once was a corrupt Democratic state senator. Or because both parties have had issues, it is OK.

    Bobby is right to point out this rampant corruption. If no one says anything, one thing is guaranteed–these practices will continue. If this corruption is continually brought to light, the people of Georgia will demand something better.

    What I think is telling is that no one has defended Perdue, Reed, Stephens, Abramoff & Co. Almost everyone here seems to accede that the current leadership of the Republican party is corrupt.

  21. Bull Moose says:

    Yeah, unfortunate too, that no one can really rebute anything said about the aforementioned leadership. I’m a Republican and can’t think of much other than didn’t Perdue pretty much violate campaign laws internally? Meaning, wasn’t the other party himself or his wife? Seems hard to explain and a pretty lousy thing to be held up for…

  22. Bobby Kahn says:

    Some very good points are contained in the posts responding to my initial post. I know better than most that a re-election of a Governor is about the incumbent. The voter asks, do I want to rehire the incumbent? What did he promise, and has he delivered? What do I get with 4 more years?

    Ethics and open government are important because Gov. Perdue promised to change the way business is done, and make government more open. He has definitely changed the way business in Georgia gets done, but it is certainly not more ethical or more open. This is the first governor in state history to be fined for violating ethics laws. He came in trying to stack the Ethics Commission with what he described as his “own team.

  23. Bill Simon says:

    Hold it there, Young Feller (“BK”)’…the “revolving door on lobbyists” is now shut, at least for a 1-year period. Perdue couldn’t get that legislation through a Democratically-controlled House for the first 2 years of his governorship.

    When a Republican took over as Speaker, the ethics bill the Governor wanted was given a REAL “look-see” rather than getting buried in the Terry Coleman-controlled House.

    And, what do we have today? A law that forbids any legislator from becoming a lobbyist for a one-year period. That is progress that you guys fought against for quite some time.

  24. Silence says:

    I’m going to echo what Bill said. Without time to write a whole lot more or participate in this discussion, the ethics legislation and mandates proposed by Perdue stalled two years running, as did previously attempts at such reform, for decades prior to that.

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