What’s Up

So I’m a bit confused this morning. I’ve checked the State Ethics Commission’s log. None of the big three gubernatorial candidates or Republican Lt. Gov. candidates have filed their disclosures.

They were due by midnight. What’s up with that?

15 comments

  1. cw\'s nightmare says:

    The Ethics website should be faster but Teddy Lee covered up so many transgressions over the years with weak “consent orders” in situations in which criminal referrals should have been made to prosecutors. Removing him was a positive move. His agency was a safe haven for criminal behavior.

  2. JaseLP says:

    There have been some problems with passwords. I know of three different people who didn’t have a password from the Ethics Commission. The Libertarian Party of Georgia is having the same problem.

  3. Bobby Kahn says:

    Am reposting my post from last night, re the Perdue Donor Secrecy Act.

    PDFs are virtually useless for any sort of search, and the filing is difficult. Welcome to the New Georgia. We owe this mess to the Perdue Donor Secrecy Act. Governor Perdue and the Republicans took the filing from the Secretary of State, gave it to the Ethics Commission, then fired the Director of the Ethics Commission just as the transition was to take place. We had a state of the art system before Gov. Perdue got involved, which begs the question, “what does Gov. Perdue have to hide?

  4. GeorgiaBoy says:

    How do you not have a password? You fax a form (and then mail in the orginal) that generates an email that contains login info – including a password. I didn’t fax the form until 540pm last night and got a password email at 6pm. Why did all the little guys get it right but the big guys didn’t? The web based system does leave much to be desired over the SoS systems for entering information. I had only a few contributions and expenditures to enter. I can’t imagine if third-party software wasn’t available that met the new requirements for doing contributions/expenditures for a statewide campaign. Entering all that information on the web-based system would most certainly lead to heavy drinking.

  5. Bill Simon says:

    While you are right, Bobby, you are also wrong, I think.

    From talking to some policy wonks at the SoS office, it really didn’t make any sense to have the disclosures dumped there when it was the Ethics Commission who was really responsible for making sure people filed on time and their disclosures followed the law.

    That being said, what you are right about is that turning electronically submitted disclosure data into unsearchable PDF output is utterly ridiculous and may be a violation of the law in terms of what is defined by “electronic data.”

    The SoS folks that I talked to (off record) stated the same thing you said: That is, they offered a perfectly well-designed, though the interface was getting a tad cumbersome (that could easily be redesigned) system to the State Ethics Commission, and they turned-up their nose to it.

    I would have, quite honestly, expected that type of shenanigan activity from the Democratic predecessors in charge, not the Republicans.

    It is unfortunate as hell that what we have in this state (and, in Congress) is almost 100% sh** when it comes to Republican-controlled management, leadership and policy implementation.

    Check with your party lawyer to see if you might have a case to take to court on that.

  6. Bill Simon says:

    (That is, a case to file against the Ethics Commission for possible violation of the intent and spirit of the law on electronic disclosures.)

  7. Bobby Kahn says:

    I don’t think anyone ever suggested that the SOS handle the filings forever. But once the Ethics Commission discovered the enormity of the task, they could have and should have contracted with the SOS to handle the first filing. It is called an intergovernmental agreement, or something like that (I’ve been out government for a while, as many on this site take delight in noting), but it could have been done. They knew they had a problem in January when they sent out instructions on filing, and Ds and Rs complained.

  8. Erick says:

    Bobby,
    I agree it appears to be a serious problem. I wonder if it really would have been so different if the D’s were in charge and not the R’s though. Either way though, this clearly has not gone smoothly.

    I blame Bush! Why? Because he already gets the blame for everything else.

  9. Bobby Kahn says:

    The filing was working fine at the Secretary of State. I look at reports all over the country, and the system Cathy Cox set up was one of the best. At first, I thought the ease of use was due to familiarity, but the more I looked at other states and the FEC, the more convinced I became of how good the old system was.

    Democrats would not have taken the filing away from the SOS. It was working fine, and this was nothing more than a gratuitous power grab. Then, we would not have stacked the Ethics Commission, and run off the Exec Dir during this key transition period.

    In January, it was evident that filing would be a disaster. Democrats and Republicans were raising concerns to the Ethics Commission staff. And look what happened. Welcome to the New Georgia. Instead of trying to work something out through an Interagency agreement, things just proceeded along to this train wreck.

    The only comparable circumstance that comes to mind surrounds the creation of the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety. It was obvious during the debate over the legislation that the transition would take time, so we asked for a legislative delay in the implementation. That delay was included in the original bill. The Governor and his crack team should have thought about the transition when they were writing the Perdue Donor Secrecy Act. If they were going to insist on this crazy scheme, they should have provided for an orderly transition, and if necessary, a delay.

    Interesting postscript — DMVS, which was not a Barnes Administration initiative — turned out to work quite well. The lines were cut, state of the art systems were put in, etc. Gov. Perdue came in, changed administrators, put a political hack in there, cut the budget, and guess what? The lines came back. Again, welcome to the New Georgia.

  10. Bill Simon says:

    One slight modification to Bobby’s statement: Cathy Cox did not “design” the disclosure system per se. She hired some really smart Georgia Tech guys who built the system and maintained it.

    The new Secretary of State has got to be smart enough to hire qualified people OR, be wise enough to allow the people working in the technology department to remain as they are not political hacks of the type that overflow the Governor’s office.

    This is one of the primary reasons why Bill Stephens is completely unqualified to run this office. He would reward volunteers with positions like this because the man has ZERO business sense.

  11. atlantaman says:

    I’ve heard from a couple of the candidates that the e-filing aspect is easier under the new GA Ethics site versus old Sec. State site. It’s just the first disclosure, let them work out the kinks and I’m sure it will be running fine in no time.

    This intergovernmental agreement (or something) idea is a fantasy. You’ve got one deptarment controlled by the Dems and the other controlled by the Repubs. The SOS office is probably pissed they lost the disclosures and would like nothing more then to see the Ethics Com. fall flat on it’s face. The Ethics Com. probably isn’t in the mood to be very solicitous to the SOS.

  12. Bill Simon says:

    Um, let me add a “no” to your presumption, Atlantaman. It was actually the SOS’s office that had proposed long ago to take the disclosure responsibility OUT of the SOS’s office and put it directly under the Ethics Commission’s umbrella.

    As far as being “pissed,” hardly. This is one less responsibility they have to contend with on the order of holding candidates’ hands as they figure out how to upload their disclosures. These guys used to have to stay late in the evening dickering around with uploads from neophyte filers who had to get them in before a deadline. Now they get to go home when they should.

    And, you may be right as far as the EC not being kindly towards the SOS’s office. As I said earlier, the folks who handle the technical aspects of the disclosure filings at the SOS’s office are NOT political appointees, but professionals hired to do a job. The EC is stocked with Sonny’s “boys” who think that all life is a political game and they are supposed to be at war with any department that isn’t run by “one of them.”

  13. atlantaman says:

    You may be right Bill, it appears you know a history there that I didn’t. But I would say in general Government Departments are never happy about having responsiblity / control taken from them (even if the job can be annoying sometimes). Since most of the folks at the SOS office are “professionals” ie beaurecrats it seems contradictory to the nautre of beaurocracies to expand.

  14. debbie0040 says:

    Bobby, The Cobb GOP had problems with our disclosures not being posted on the SOS web site even they had been filed by deadline. Sometimes they were mis-categorized. This caused problems because people thought we were not filing our disclosures. For every stone you throw at Gov. Perdue, there is one or more that can be hurled back at Cox. Anytime you change processes you will have issues. People just assume technology will work without testing it out and that is a mistake.

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