Olens puts forward ethics proposal.

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.

12 comments

  1. ByteMe says:

    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;

    I want more than “disclosure”. I also want recusal. That alone would leave the House Banking Committee empty of members.

  2. Jeremy Jones says:

    Must be the rain, I seem to be disagreeing with most everyone today!

    You may be correct, it might leave the committee empty. How does that help?

    Deal voted present (Cash for Clunkers) because the particular legislation may have helped his personal business. Who cares? He should vote on every issue. If it ends up benefiting him, or hurting him, I don’t care, as long as the decision of the vote was based upon sound judgment and what is in the best interest of the people.

    I see it akin to the silly “zero tolerance” programs that get a 13 year old straight A girl expelled from school by bringing Midol to school.

    Just because my wife works in a high position in a bank, if I were in the legislature, should I abstain from debate and voting on a bill that would lower capital requirements for banks? Of course not, my vote would be based on my Conservative principles. If, such a law were passed, and it resulted in people like my wife getting large performance bonuses from the bank, the voters should decide if I voted for personal gain, or with sound judgment and logic.

    We elect our representatives to do a job. They are charged with making decisions, many of them tough ones. I know I am in the minority on this issue, but I feel they should do their job, and do it right.

      • Jeremy Jones says:

        If the failure of the banks is a result of the oversight, or lack thereof, then yes, that committee should be disbanded. My only point was, I do not think a perceived conflict of interest should automatically disqualify someone from voting on a bill.

        I know you started the point out with the committee, I, inadvertently, discussed a representative voting on specific bills. I still think members should make the tough choices, but I am certainly open to the idea that the committee on banking should not be controlled completely by a group of people of whom the legislature would regulate. I certainly believe such a person should be involved for his/her opinion and insight, but the whole committee? I don’t think so.

        Sorry for the confusion.

        • ByteMe says:

          I agree that perceived conflicts-of-interest are an overly broad standard. I’d just like not to keep getting f*cked by politicians who are taking self-regulation to a criminal extreme. Typical pork pales in comparison to the cost incurred on taxpayers by the members of this committee.

    • John Konop says:

      Jermy

      YOU SAID:

      … lower capital requirements for banks?….

      MY QUESTION;

      Why do you think lowering capital requirements at a bank is conservative? Would you raise FDIC insurance requirements? And do you understand the FDIC shortage is guaranteed by tax payers? Do you understand the FDIC is running out of money via a lack of capital at the bank?

  3. Ron2008 says:

    I find it funny how Sam talks about Ethics but when Cobb County wanted to purchase park land with taxpayer money it was done behind closed doors with no hearing to the public on where the park locations may be and how their money was to be spent.

    • ByteMe says:

      Most municipalities do it that way to keep away the profiteers and to keep the land value from spiking before the municipality closes the deal. It’s like personnel decisions: they may not make it into the light of day until after, just because it’s hard to do it right otherwise.

    • Sam Olens says:

      Parks properties first came forward at the request of a Citizens Parks Committee per public vote. The list to be considered for acquisition was made public too. Each property to be acquired was placed on a public agenda and voted on at the public meeting. It is the initial list of nominated properties that were not disclosed as many of those owners did not want that information disclosed.

  4. Jack Smith says:

    The significance of the Sam Olens proposal may have more to do with who one of his potential Democratic opponents are. Ken Hodges makes Richardson look saintly.

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