24 comments

  1. joe says:

    Spacey,

    Are you nuts? Who would actually allow a politician in their home? Why would you want to even associate with somebody who wasn’t smart enough to be able to live off of $173 per day?

  2. drjay says:

    a residence inn (which is not a fancy place to stay by any strech) in midtown w/ a gov’t rate that has a sofa and a kitchenette is going to run $124 a nite, add in groceries, toiletries, gas, etc…and your average joe blow state rep from eastman could easily go through 173 a day even if the occassional lobbyist buys them dinner and a couple of drinks every now and then

  3. The Comma Guy says:

    Government rate for Residence Inn in Atlanta during January is $109 (downtown & midtown) $99 for 17th street. And of course if you’re going to be there for 3-4 months, you might get an even better rate.

    And they could always try to rent an apartment for those months – $700/month gets a nice AMLI one not too far away from the capital. $173/day means they get $5200 bucks a month to live and eat off of, on top of the salary. That does not account for the $17,000 divided by 4.

  4. Just my .02 worth but a machinist from Savannah working in Atlanta will get room, rental car and $38 a day for food to work in Atlanta or anywhere else for that matter. As one who used to think politicians made way too much money I have realized that they are actually underpaid for the job they are supposed to be doing. A middle manager in a medium to large business would be making way more money with way more benefits and $100 a head for a ritzy dinner is actually on the cheap side.

  5. drjay says:

    do they get the 173/day the whole time they are in session–or just 173x the 40 days the constitution syas they are not in session–which would be about 6900 to basically maintain a 2nd residence for 3 months every year–and for a lot of folks that 17k/ year amts’ to quite a pay cut if you are not getting paid at home while working in the big city…

  6. John Walraven says:

    All that needs to be done to make this annual story go away is to simply invite the men and women of the press who continue to write these unimaginative stories out to dinner with the lobbyists and legislators. The only reason they are upset is that they’re not invited and therefore, have zero opportunity in that venue to influence the conversation or to set the agenda. Lobbyists are competition for the press, especially the Atlanta press, who as a rule demands the ability to set the agenda and then drive the discussion in order for its approval of pending legislation on its editorial pages.

    Inviting the writers to dinner would end their incessant griping on the subject and might even, just even, show them that the whole thing ain’t always that interesting anyway. I know there’s some fancy food at some fancy spots, but in my ten years around here I’ve never seen any lobbyist dangle a lobster or a steak in front of a member telling him that he can eat if he’ll just vote a certain way.

    Writing these stories is so easy. So unimaginative. Done every year. Zero variation between them. I’ve never written for a news outlet, but bet I could nail the template for this one:

    Rep./Sen. _____ dined with _______, a lobbyist representing ______ at ______ on (date). _______, a powerful lobbyist who has been a presence at the Gold Dome for ___ years paid $_.__ for the meal.

    *Yawn*

    Can we move on to something else? Isn’t there a really big tax proposal out there? An effort to insure the working uninsured? A move to zero-based budgeting? A presidential campaign? A…

  7. Icarus says:

    Moving on,

    According to the AJC, the sugarloaf madam is looking for work. If anyone’s hiring, please let her know.

  8. rugby_fan says:

    “All that needs to be done to make this annual story go away is to simply invite the men and women of the press who continue to write these unimaginative stories out to dinner with the lobbyists and legislators.”

    Yes because there is nothing unethical about that for journalists.

  9. Icarus says:

    Given this lady’s experience in professional endeavors, I’m sure we could get her a job as a lobbyist where using all her skills would then be legal and customary.

  10. In the loop says:

    John Walraven: I have written these stories for a news outlet. Obviously the issue is not a steak for a vote quid pro quo, but readers want to know who is wining and dining their representatives.

    My code of ethics prohibits me from accepting anything of value from a source. I split my checks. Legislators can do the same if they want to be above reproach.

  11. Jmac says:

    Wouldn’t it make sense for the state government to strike a deal with a nice hotel near the Capitol where the legislators could all stay there if needed? And it could be a value for $100 a night or something?

  12. griftdrift says:

    Jmac, they actually did that at one time. Remember the old Stadium hotel that was near Fulton county stadium? Oh the stories those walls could tell.

  13. Hortence says:

    Well, I guess Buddy Carter’s campaign for Congress is over before it starts. If he runs, that’s the only issue we’ll hear about for the next 18 or so months.

    Funny thing is that if these folks, and especially some particular lobbyists, would have broken the law if they pulled this mess in Washington, DC.

    We need limits along with disclosure. They go hand in hand.

    If a legislature is going to belly ache about serving in Atlanta than retire and let someone else do it.

  14. atlantaman says:

    “We need limits along with disclosure. They go hand in hand.”

    Why do they go hand-in-hand. As a matter of fact I think having both is bit redundant and bureaucratic. Is it really necessary to have full disclosure if the lobbyists are limited to entertaining with Happy Meals?

  15. John Walraven says:

    Loop: Above reproach? Above whose reproach? Yours? Common Cause’s? Who decreed that either judgment would be worthy anyway? Additionally, where did you glean that “voters want to know who is wining and dining their representatives?”I haven’t ever seen this issue surface in any Georgia poll. Plus, everything is fully disclosed. If the voters were so interested, they’ve got a very searchable, easy-to-use database located at the State Ethics Commission that’s easily found using a google search. We’re not talking about Abramoff-styled trips to Scotland and bribery. Its dinner.

    I guess we know what angle you write these stories from. So much for objective reporting. You’re prejudiced slant before you put pen to paper is that legislators should adopt the code of ethics of reporters for the purposes of having dinner. You say as much in your post by drawing the illogical comparison between yourself as a writer and legislators. Your “source” isn’t a registered lobbyist who files public reports required by law and you, as a writer, are not accountable to anyone except your boss.

  16. In the loop says:

    Notice I said they “can” not let lobbyists pick up checks – if they want to avoid scrutiny. I did not say they “should.”

    It’s not like reporters are screaming corruption from the rooftops when they write a stories about big campaign contributions or $1,000 feasts. Voters are big boys and girls. They can decide for themselves.

    And you must know as well as I do that Georgia’s ethics laws are notoriously lax. So no, people should not depend on a government database to give them this information.

  17. John Walraven says:

    Georgia Republicans passed the toughest ethics laws in our history in their first year of having Majority control of the General Assembly. Lead by the Governor, the House and Senate each inserted literally hundreds of new rules, increased fines by 1000% and brought ethics reporting into the 21st century. “Notoriously lax?” Again, to who? The Ethics commission just dropped a $15,000 fine on someone for failing to register. Go read the summary of the bill included in a 2005 issue of the Georgia Bar Journal. It’ll numb your brain its so long and so full of amendments to the law.

    Why is it not sufficient for a wide-open record of all lobbyist expenditures to be accessible to all? Why can’t Georgians “depend,” as you say, on the Ethics Commission’s database? Do you not trust Georgians enough to be able to look up what their legislator has been given by lobbyists? Should Georgians not have access to this information and simply wait on the media to tell them what they need to know? Nobody is “depending” on a government database, as you write. Its the law that this information should be wide-open and accessible so voters don’t have to “depend” on the likes of the media to inform them of items they can easily determine themselves. And, its not like the media is really equal in its reporting, here. Stories generally single out one legislator and essentially paint he or she as you describe: something less than “above reproach.”

    And whether you said “should” or “can,” drawing a comparison between elected officials and members of the media and the codes of ethics each should employ is a swing and a miss.

  18. joe says:

    I am not, nor ever have been a lobbyist. I
    don’t want any limits on lobbyists, they are just doing a job. I want very strict limits on what legislators can accept. I have never voted for anybody in the hopes that they would get rich, but many do get rich AFTER they are elected.

    Elected politicians need a code of ethics that prevents them from accepting anything.

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