“A lavished lawmaker”

Via the tipline, this AJC article lays out a lifestyle which many of us would love to have, but which, if the article is true, is on the wrong side of ethical:

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen kept a full social calendar during the 2007 legislative session. Lobbyists for law firms, auto dealers, utilities and insurance companies were among those who fed the St. Simons Republican 54 times at some of the nicest restaurants in town. (Shading on calendar below indicates days lobbyists wined and dined Keen. Beneath calendar is a list of dates, amounts and companies doing the spending).

Details available here.

28 comments

  1. YourFutureLeader says:

    Thats a grand total of right around 5100 dollars. Jeez the Majority Leader was awfully busy this last session.

  2. drjay says:

    maybe i’m a naive simpleton, but is anyone surprised that a lot of people wanted to take the house majoirty leader out to dinner while the ledge was in session?? i get taken to out to lunch by suppliers occasionally and receive gifts from folks i refer to –is this any different??

  3. yellowhammer says:

    Wrong side of ethical? Are you serious? According to the article, all this information was taken from the disclosures provided to Ethics Commission, which means it’s completely above board. He’s the Majority Leader of the House and a hell of a lot of people want a piece of his time.

  4. EAVDad says:

    Yellowhammer is right — it’s ethical. The question is this: Does the law need to be changed.

    I’d put a limit on how large gifts can be ($25), how much a lobbyist can spend on a particular legislator per session (something like $100 or so) and a limit on how much a legislator can receive in gifts overall (not sure of this amount).

    If people want to get rid of lobbyist gifts, they’ll probably have to agree to increase the “salary” that legislators pull down, don’t ya think?

  5. I Am Jacks Post says:

    So yellowhammer, legal and ethical are virtually interchangeable? Any action is ethical so long as it’s legal?

  6. Donkey Kong says:

    I Am Jacks,

    Took the words right out of my mouth. Jeff said it was unethical, not illegal. Big difference.

  7. YourFutureLeader says:

    Id like to see us move towards having similar rules to those of Florida in regards to lobbyist gifts, as of right now Non-Profits and State Agencies cannot even begin to compete for our reps time.

  8. EAVDad says:

    I believe they do get a per diem — but remember, for at least half of them, and probably more, that includes overnight accomodations.

    I’m not making excuses here: Certainly it seems that Rep. Keen was wined and dined. But that’s the way business is done right now. If you’re going to change the way business is done, then you need to make sure there is still a chance for legislators to interact — within the boundries of the law — with lobbyists.

    I think we can all agree that lobbyists serve a very important role…

    I am Jacks — you raise a good point about “ethical” and “legal.” Certainly Keen’s actions were legal.

  9. Jason O says:

    I am somewhat shocked that he was able to eat lunch for $3.04 on March 20th. A club sandwich at Sloppy Floyd costs more than that. Aflac needs to step it up.

  10. rightbeforeleft says:

    Is this the first of the vaunted “hit pieces” the AJC was dangling during the session? Maybe they started soft to test the waters before heading towards the Speaker and others?

  11. Donkey Kong says:

    The AJC certainly won’t be running hit pieces on the Governor. They don’t attack their own.

  12. Bull Moose says:

    Without making a judgement one way or the other, are there limits on how much lobbyists can spend on legislators and their staff’s?

    If there isn’t, there should be.

  13. joe says:

    Bull,

    The limits need to be on how much the government employee can receive. That limit should be zero.

  14. Bull Moose says:

    So, does anyone know yet what the limits are? Are you telling me that while there are limits on what our Members of Congress can receive from lobbyists for meals, etc… there are no limits on what Members of the Georgia General Assembly can receive?

  15. Trackboy1 says:

    $259.44 for dinner and drinks for Keen and wife
    -Either a whole lot of drinks or some damn pricey food

    $166.80 for dinner
    -Again, some pricey food, but over $150 for one man’s meal?

    $378.78 for dinner and drinks for Keen and wife
    -Gluttony. Period.

    $231.75 for dinner for Keen and staffer
    -A good steak can easily cost $100, right?

    $136.65 for dinner
    -For himself? What, no wife this time?

    $51.73 for lunch
    -How in the F does anyone spend $50 on lunch?

    $129 for dinner
    -Hey, cavier ain’t cheap.

    $229.58 for dinner
    -Time for a new belt…

    My favorite is the Jan. 4th $8 lunch and then $75 dinner. A real man of the people.

    That $160 per day per diem just doesn’t go as far as it used to. Wonder how many meals he has with his constituents the other nine months of the year.

  16. Bill Simon says:

    Per diem for the legislators is right around $175 per day, whether they’re out of town or sleeping in their own Atlanta-based bed.

    They are getting paid MORE than enough to get their own meals. Not their own hookers, mind you, but their own meals.

    I wonder how many marriages would still be intact if it weren’t for the lard that lobbyists are allowed to lord over the legislators?

    (If I tried harder, I could write a pretty good limerick here…lard, lord, lobbyists, legislators…crooked…oops! That doesn’t fit too well…)

  17. Doug Deal says:

    The money is not the problem. The problem is the voters who show nothing but apathy toward the lifestyle, morals and judgement that these lords of the manor demonstrate on a daily basis.

    If voters actually held politicians and parties accountable for their actions while in office, limits on gifts would not be neccessary.

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