There’s a silver lining in every crisis and it seems ethics reform may be Zippergate’s silver lining. GOP AG Candidate Sam Olens issued a press release with his ideas for ethics reform:
“While every candidate for State office is now talking about ethics, I’m proud of the fact that our campaign has been talking about the need for much stronger ethics laws for six months,” said Olens.
“As Attorney General, I will work with the General Assembly to significantly strengthen numerous sections of Georgia Code, expressly including the Ethics in Government Act, the Open Meetings and Open Records laws, and the Statutory Code of Ethics for Government Service. Consistent with Cobb County code, state law must preclude even the appearance of impropriety,” added Olens.
My Ethics Platform includes:
* Stringent requirements on the actual release of public documents in a timely manner to avoid meaningful fines;
* Enhanced requirements assuring open meetings and meaningful fines for violations of open meetings;
* Disclosure by any member of the General Assembly who sponsors legislation where a pecuniary interest exists or a direct family member would benefit from the outcome;
* A penalty for non-compliance with the Statutory Code of Ethics for Public Officers;
* Inability to qualify for public office for outstanding ethics fines and taxes; and,
* Legislative investigations to be handled through the State Ethics Board presenting recommendations to the Joint Ethics Committee (direct action would violate non-delegation of powers).
“For too long, partial compliance with ethics laws has been sufficient. Any individuals seeking public office must demonstrate that their moral integrity is beyond reproach to serve our residents,” said Olens.
I think the General Assembly should take up ethics reform in the upcoming session. I would caution that oftentimes in the rush to fix something, bad legislation gets passed. Let’s do this thoughtfully.