Everyone In The General Assembly Pat Yourselves On The Back. You’re All Ethical Now

April 21, 2010 23:30 pm

by Icarus · 106 comments

Hooray. We have ethics reform.

Color me unimpressed.

At this year’s Wild Hog Supper (fresh on the heels of the Glen Richardson implosion), I was talking to two state Reps. One is one I’ve known and respected for a while. The other was one I had just met, but respected what i knew of him. And the new acquaintance ask me this question:

“How little do we have to do on ethics reform to get you guys to shut up?”

No, that’s not how he phrased it, but I knew that’s exactly what he meant. And then he went on to tell me a familiar refrain. One that I have heard from the least senior member of the General Assembly to the top leadership:

“We’re not all like that. Most of us are good people. Please don’t lump us all together with a few bad apples.”

And frankly, most of them are good people. I know and understand this. They are good men and women. Most actually started out with a noble intention of actual public service. Many still toil away with long hours, low pay, time spent in committee meetings in Atlanta listening to crazy women who claim someone put an RFD device in her hoo-hah, in the hope that they can make the state a better place.

But there’s also the saying that “politics is Hollywood for ugly people”, and that saying helps underscore the point. There is tempation built into the system. There is much power that is ripe for abuse. And with the combination of power, vast amounts of money, and unlimited amounts of temptation, there has to be checks, and balance must be restored.

Yet I have routinely been told that we don’t need more ethics laws, we just need to elect ethical people. I spent my early career as a banker, and there were strict rules in place about how money could be handled, dual controls for everything, daily counts, and strict audits.

Never once did I hear bank management say, we don’t need to have all these controls, we need to just hire honest people. In fact, they said the opposite. The controls were in place because they did hire honest people, and the controls removed the temptation of easy money via theft. Thus, honest people remained honest, despite the temptation of the money they handled and processed every day.

Yet our General Assembly doesn’t want tigher controls to remove obvious temptations. They wish to rearrange deckchairs and continue the course of the ship.

The same Rep I mentioned above was asked at a town hall if it was wrong for a legislator to sleep with a lobbyist. He stumbled through an answer, would not say it was necessarily wrong, and finally concluded something to the effect of “well, it’s not illegal that I know of.”

No sir, you’re not all like that. But you also just missed the only opportunity you will have to make those who are like that either leave the General Assembly or face heavy punishment if they continue their well documented behavior.

So as you review the “new and improved” ethics bill that is fresh on its way to the Governor, please ask yourself these four questions:

1) Is it still legal for a member of the General Assembly to have sexual relations with a lobbyist? Including one representing clients with business before the committee which the GA member either chairs or serves on?

2) Is it still legal for a member of the General Assembly to take money from municipal taxpayers (or any other government entity) without a single documented contract, or any record of any work product performed?

3) Can a member of the General Assembly still profit from an organization that sells lobbying and consulting services based on its premium contacts within Georgia government?

4) And when there is a suspected violation of the few ethics rules that actually exist, is it still the responsibility of the General Assembly to police themselves, given their history of pretending to ignore what is now known as “common knowledge“?

If the answer to any of the above 4 questions is yes, then not only is this ethics reform a failure, but it is also proof that the members of the General Assembly just don’t get it.

Tyler April 21, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I had more than one legislator look me dead in the eye and say “We’ll fix it.” I was always skeptical, but to have someone basically lie to your face on an issue as important as this is just disgusting. That’s why I don’t hold my breath when politicians make promises.

Butler, Bearden, and Pearson have some explaining to do. And what they’ve told the AJC doesn’t cut it.

Nathan April 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

“We’ll fix it,” he says, only to go back on his word. And we wonder why folks are so upset with government?

I held a lot of hope for change in the General Assembly in January after Glenn Richardson left, but I’ve been very disappointed in the overall session. Georgia Republicans said that ethics would be reformed under the Gold Dome. I’m getting tired of promises being made by the leaders of our state only to be broken later on down the road. If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it in the first place. I have great respect for Speaker Ralston. He had a tough legislative session this year, but major ethics reform was low-hanging fruit for the Georgia House and Senate.

There’s a large anti-incumbency crowd across our state. I’d hate to see a lot of good legislators ultimately pay the price for poor leadership.

Icarus April 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Nice to see a party leader actually try to lead Nathan. Good job.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor April 22, 2010 at 12:06 am

I can’t get into details. But so many times, I’ve listened to House/Senate members regret how they voted because their respective party coerced/suggested/told them to vote that way.

The Parties urn the screws. Government can get so much more accomplished if it weren’t for the parties. One only needs to look at Obamacare; most of it incorporates Newt’s Center for Health Transformation’s model legislation; i.e. RomneyCare and GA’s SB 28 from 3-4 years ago. Of course, when the “negro Stalin” pushes it, it’s dismissed as “Socialism.”

Mozart April 22, 2010 at 9:51 am

I doubt it’s the “parties” as in “political parties.” I think it is the “leadership” who appear to sometimes represent a party, but in the halls of the dome, political principles do not always exist.

Gerald April 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

Shhhh … no one wants to hear that. They also don’t want to hear about how it was big business who SILENTLY begged Washington to do more about healthcare costs, or they would outsource still more jobs to countries, who either have socialized medicine or a workforce that doesn’t expect healthcare benefits (France or India). The GOP toyed around with various healthcare reforms for years, but ultimately punted and let the Democrats take the political hit for it. Just like Bill Clinton punted the Iraq issue to George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan punted the economic mess (the Savings and Loans scandal, having to close all of those bases, and the badly needed tax increases and changes to monetary policy) to George H. W. Bush, and how Jimmy Carter had to deal with a lot of the problems that Nixon refused to, and how LBJ allowed Nixon to clean up the Viet Nam mess.

That is how it always works, but shhhh … don’t talk about it! No one likes to admit it!

GOPGeorgia April 22, 2010 at 12:29 am

Instead of calling it a failure, why not call it steps in the right direction and acknowledge that there is more work to be done on the subject?

Publius April 22, 2010 at 12:46 am

The bill does a fair amount to regulate the transfer of campaign contributions, but absolutely fails to address the issues which brought about this ethics bill.

Mozart April 22, 2010 at 9:53 am

You mean Chris Farris’s concern about a legislator who might have a kink being blackmailed by a lobbyist? Yeah, I hear they wrestled with the wording on that one.

Tyler April 22, 2010 at 12:51 am

It’s nothing but smoke and mirrors. It is a failure.

IW April 22, 2010 at 12:57 am

Isn’t not achieving the goal always considered failure, no matter how “close” you get?

Icarus April 22, 2010 at 1:00 am

Probably because I don’t pledge allegiance to a party, but instead prefer the actual goal of honest, open, and ethical government.

GOPGeorgia April 22, 2010 at 1:40 am

Guys (and maybe gals?)

If you are so convinced that they are getting it so wrong, qualifying is next week. If your ideas are so much better, perhaps you should be under the gold dome. You also have the option of finding someone who will do a better job than those we have in there now. Write them a check, go door to door, put up yard signs, make phone calls.

Otherwise, I’ll just hand you another rock to throw.

Jeff April 22, 2010 at 5:24 am

Doug,

I can’t qualify due to the ballot access restrictions your Party has yet to address.

Level the playing field, and you’re dang right I’ll run or find someone who can.

GOPGeorgia April 22, 2010 at 8:08 am

Jeff,

Jeff,

Two of the posters that just chimed in claimed to be Republicans, or at least they did once upon a time. They could do that for you, and my comment was for them.

You could run, you just don’t want to take the time to get the signatures required to get on the ballot.

IMO, ballot access should be earned. I would be in favor of changing the law so that if a member of another party follows the law as it’s written now, gets the signatures, and gets 20% in that election, whoever is the nominee from that party in the following election, wouldn’t have to get the signatures.

To clarify, you get the signatures required to run for house district whatever, you don’t win but get 20% or more, but in the next election cycle, your brother (or someone else from your party) can run in your place without having to get the signatures. That may not be what you want, but it’s better than what you have. Elections cost the taxpayers money. Unfettered ballot access with no restrictions will almost ensure a run off, and cost us money. I think my suggestion is a reasonable compromise.

Jeff April 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

Doug:

The winner of my election BARELY got more than 5% of the registered voters in the district to vote for him. (Obviously, nonpartisan race)

I have no problem “earning” ballot access – IFF everyone (INCLUDING Republicans and Democrats) have to earn it EXACTLY the same way, and IFF the process of “earning” it is actually reasonable. Quite frankly, right now NEITHER of those applies.

Bobby Reese’s bill wasn’t everything I liked, but at least it would have allowed more statewide access for more Parties, and thus more genuine choice at least at the statewide level.

GOPGeorgia April 23, 2010 at 9:29 am

Republicans did not hold anything statewide in Georgia for 135 years. Then Bobby Baker got elected to the PSC. I think that was around 1992. However, we have been getting at least 20% of the vote.

It’s not realistic to go back and start from nothing. I’ve opened the door a bit. Complaining that you don’t like the way the door is built, how many and how others have gone through it before won’t help either.

I would suggest to find others that agree we can agree, call it common ground, and start trying to make progress. As a party principal, Republicans tend to appreciate hard work and individual responsibility. You might find the help you need, if you pull your own weight. I won’t be in favor of “giving” anything. I will be in favor of letting ballot access be continued once it is “earned.”

Mozart April 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

“IMO, ballot access should be earned.”

So, on that note, I guess you think “freedom” should be “earned” as well? And, perhaps “freedom of speech” should be earned too. And, the “right” to “due process” should be “earned” as well…in your “humble opinion,” eh,?

GOPGeorgia April 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

From 1775 to 1783, freedom was earned. Freedom of speech was earned. Due process was earned. We did not have those rights (recognized) before then, and it took the blood of patriots to earn their recognition.

In my humble opninion….

David Staples April 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm

“Elections cost the taxpayers money. Unfettered ballot access with no restrictions will almost ensure a run off, and cost us money.”

A great example of why we need Instant Runoff Voting in this state.

GOPGeorgia April 23, 2010 at 9:34 am

I don’t (currently) agree with instant run off voting. If you are going to do that, just do away with 50%+1.

David Staples April 23, 2010 at 10:13 am

Do tell. What part of instant runoff voting don’t you agree with? Seems it works rather well in the places that have instituted it.

Doug Grammer April 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

It takes a while for elections to be certified. The numbers come in on election night, but there is the case of seeing if the provisional ballots are properly cast. It might take another week to see if there were any more absentee ballots sent in by military stationed overseas.

I like the idea of having elections until there is 50%+1. It’s just what I am used to.

Icarus April 22, 2010 at 8:21 am

Actually Doug, the last time I got a smug challenge like that from a protector of the staus quo, I spent about 4 months of my life and $20,000 of my own money to primary an incumbent Senator. I didn’t win, but I made sure he lost. Today, Mitch Seabaugh is in the Senate, and I’m proud he was one of those that voted against the hospital bed tax and sacrificed his own leadership position for principle.

This year, I have moved districts since Nov 09, and thus don’t qualify to challenge anyone in the GA. But there are many other ways to challenge them. One is to refuse to look when they pull a “hey, look over there” move to distract from the real issues/problems.

Another is to not enable those to maintain a corrupt status quo because they hide under a party lable that I still generally agree with.

A third will be to make sure those who do enable them, at all levels, don’t get too comfortable either. And it seems like you’ve got quite a few fine folks in your area willing to challenge incumbents. Maybe if some of them don’t win, they’ll decide one way to make a difference is to challenge some party leaders/hacks.

GOPGeorgia April 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

It’s not a smug challenge. You are obviously are interested into what goes on under the dome. If you feel qualified and that you have better ideas, you should run again. If not this year, then in 2012. Think you can solve the problems of the state? Go do it! The legislature might be a better place with you in it, depending on whom you replaced.

I just said I would be OK with changing the law, so how does that make me a protector of the status quo?

Tyler April 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

Two of the posters that just chimed in claimed to be Republicans, or at least they did once upon a time.

This implies that the two posters, i.e. Ic and I, may not be Republican. Well if “Republican” and “status quo” are synonymous, I think you’ll find quite a number of Georgia voters becoming Independents this year. Our state is in trouble and the GAGOP as well. We’re doing what we can for real reform in Georgia, including backing candidates that we know will fix things. I do not accept what the legislature has done this year. Call me a contrarian, I’ll accept the title gladly. I’m all for working within the Party and changing it back to a principled stance, but claiming that a party is doing an O.K. job and sitting back just b/c we currently maintain the majority is foolish.

I want party chairs, officers, and members to ban together within the GAGOP and call for reform. The days of “we just need to elect Republicans” are over b/c they’ve stopped doing what they were elected to do. Tell me, how in the world can a Party built on the premise of reform in Georgia continue to behave worse than the Democrats? We need to stop kidding ourselves and realize that our crap stinks too.

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 9:47 am

Tyler, you’ve been listening to Erick too much. Erick just became a democrat, and is actively trying to smear the GOP. You would not be well advised to follow in his footsteps. Voting for Jim Marshall over Mac Collins? (Erick admitted this on the air) Tell me what kind of litmus test that passes.

Henry Waxman April 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Well, this helps explains Erick’s support for Karen Handel…

GOPGeorgia April 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Tyler

Tom Weldon already has one challenger. Or do you live in Jay Neal’s district?

GOPGeorgia April 22, 2010 at 8:44 am

My apologies. You didn’t call me a protector of the status quo, you just talked about the last time someone said you should run.

Mozart April 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

“This year, I have moved districts since Nov 09, and thus don’t qualify to challenge anyone in the GA”

You moved to Alabama?

Chris April 22, 2010 at 11:02 am

No, you must be a resident of your district 2 years prior to qualifying.

Doug Deal April 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

District is 1 year. In the same state is 2 years.

gamecock April 22, 2010 at 1:49 am

Conservatives should understand that man will always seek out the temptations no matter how many laws we pass. Disclosure is the key and then let the people decide. more later

Ramblinwreck April 22, 2010 at 5:58 am

At the beginning of the session I was in a group of TEA Party organizers from the 9th District who met with Speaker Ralston and gave him 3 issues that were important to us. One of those 3 was ethics reform to limit what lobbyists could spend on elected officials and the need for more transparency and accountability. It was the only issue of the 3 the Speaker had any reluctance about fully supporting. He went into a somewhat lengthy explanation about how serving in the legislature was hard enough, how it is an almost full time job for part time pay, how he trusted his members, yadda, yadda, yadda. When we left the meeting I commented to one of the people with me that I didn’t think he was serious about substantial ethics reform. Looks like I was right. Sometimes I hate being right.

hannah April 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

Trying to restrict the behavior of citizens who participate in the electoral process by contributing to candidates is the wrong approach. It’s why most of McCain/Feingold eventually got thrown out by the SCOTUS and why the ruling in Citizens United came down.
Restrictions should be placed on candidates for public office, incumbents or wanna-bes — just like the laws against accepting bribes which already apply to public officials. It would be good for prospective public officials to get used to the idea that public officials have obligations and are subject to restrictions and that getting paid twice for the same job (by the people and the special interests) is immoral, even if not strictly illegal.
It’s very hard to get people to do the right thing. That’s why the criminal law targets bad behavior AFTER it’s occurred and can be proved by evidence. That’s also why we pay people to do what we want and remove them from the position when they don’t do right.

John Konop April 22, 2010 at 6:39 am

This is a very good post all should read! Keep up the great work! We should all give Austin and Karen credit for being all over this issue.

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

We should all give credit to David Ralston. Karen had absolutely nothing to do with getting this done. Give credit where it is due.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

I agree. This lame excuse for “ethics reform” has absolutely nothing to do with any public conversation about ethics reform from any of the candidates and more about the latest unethical Republican House Speaker looking to line his campaign coffers and own pockets with as much cash as possible.

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

The latest unethical Republican House Speaker, Glenn Richardson, is history. Thank goodness. David Ralston and crew did a very effective job of making sure that no other elected official screws Georgia taxpayers as badly as Glenn did. $350 Million of our money for laying pipe, just so Glenn can lay some pipe? Never again.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

What makes you think that Ralston isn’t just getting started? You still believe in self-policing, huh? Anyone hesitating to put a strong ethics law into place that includes limits on gifts is just a decent bribe away from selling the rest of us out and he knows it.

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

What makes you think that Ralston isn’t just getting started? I firmly believe in addressing the issue at hand. The issue was the Glenn Richardson situation. Thanks to language in this new bill specific to that situation, the story will not play out again with different names and faces. The bill is a starting point, and I believe that we will see more ethics reforms enacted by David Ralston and crew next session.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

No, the issue was NOT the Glenn Richardson situation or else the only change in rules would be not to sleep with lobbyists. And why is the speaker — the leader of the majority party in the House — unable to do more than something you refer lovingly as “getting started”? And why when pressed on limiting gifts did he dissemble in an interview about not being paid enough for the long hours?

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Now that I have addressed the issue at hand, on to your latest post.

What type of policing do you believe in? Finding someone guilty before they commit the crime? Frankly, your post accusing Ralston of being unethical is not fair or accurate. I am sorry for you that the GOP addressed a possibly politically catastrophic situation, fixed it, and left you democrats and closet democrats with very little to whine about. If you want to see a “culture of corruption”, look into what happened in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana culminating in January 2010. (http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/01/aaron_broussard_survived_katri.html)

I am proud to be a Georgian and will not stand for people unfairly tarnishing Georgia’s good name.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Hahahahahaha!!!!!

Too funny. “I am a proud Georgian”… isn’t that like calling any one who dissents against Republicans a “terrorist sympathizer” like they did back in the 2003 timeframe? That’s so old and stupid as to be unworthy of anyone with a brain.

My post is both fair and accurate and they didn’t FIX ANYTHING. They just papered over it with a watered down bill.

When Ralston’s done with you, remember to pull up your panties.

In The Arena April 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

In order to remove your head from your a$$, you must first unzip your jean shorts.

Henry Waxman April 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

+1 for the jorts joke.

As for the rest of the conversation, tl;dr.

Progressive Dem April 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Don’t let your pride get in the way of recognizing we’re near the bottom of the 50 states in education, poverty, income, mental health care spending, and obesity.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Queue the typical “Well if you don’t like it here, Delta is ready…” lame response in 3… 2… 1….

Icarus April 22, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Some one just won today’s “Teriq Aziz” award for filling the role of the minister of propoganda, and it’s you In The Arena.

There is nothing in this bill that would have either prevented what Richardson did (can’t really be done), but more importantly, what he did STILL IS NOT AGAINST THE ETHICS RULES.

John Konop April 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

Icarus

Facts do not matter, it is all about how they feel about the issue.

In The Arena April 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

What about the provision that makes it a crime to use a state agency to harrass someone? Richardson would be thrown in jail.

You, Icarus, are the king of propaganda. One question about your name, Icarus. Does it imply that you flew too close to the sun or does it imply that you are about to fly to close to the sun?

Icarus April 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Ah, a nice veiled threat to begin the day. Awesome.

Please define “harrass”. Consensual acts are not harrassment.

ByteMe April 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

Probably meant Susan.

In The Arena April 23, 2010 at 11:51 am

“Richardson said that during the weekend, her ex-husband sent her 49 text messages, accusing her of abandoning the children, threatening to turn her into Division of Family and Children Services, beat her up and use the Georgia State patrol and GBI to look for her.”

Icarus April 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

How does this bill keep another Richardson from trying to give away a $300 million pipeline to someone he’s sleeping with?

Icarus April 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Specifically, you said:

“Thank goodness. David Ralston and crew did a very effective job of making sure that no other elected official screws Georgia taxpayers as badly as Glenn did. $350 Million of our money for laying pipe, just so Glenn can lay some pipe? Never again.”

Threatening Susan was well after the attempted giveaway of the $350 Million.

How does this bill make illegal or against state ethics policy the attempt to give away a $350 Million dollar pipeline to someone a member of the General Assembly is sleeping with?

In The Arena April 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm

-Broaden the authority of the state Ethics Commission.
-Tighten reporting requirements for lobbyists and legislators.
-Increase fees and fines for lobbyists and legislators who break the law.
-Make it a crime to use state agencies or authorities to attack or harass someone.
-Prohibit sexual harassment.
-Require many local elected officials to file campaign disclosure reports with the Ethics Commission. -AJC

Can you comment specifically on why you feel that these provisions do not help?

Icarus April 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

If you read the original post, you have members of the G.A. who won’t even say its wrong for a member of the legislature to be sleeping with a lobbyist, including one who has business before that legislator’s committee, or who has a bill that that legislator is advancing.

And it is not now currently against rules/laws for them to do so.

After this bill is signed, it still will not be illegal for them to do so.

Can you please tell me how your nice set of bullet points changes the fact that it is still not illegal or against ethics rules for a legislator to be sleeping with a lobbyist and for that legislator to advance the lobbyists’ legislation?

Or, for that matter, the other three ethics issues exposed this session by members of the G.A. as described in the above post?

1) Sex with lobbyist then advancing their bill? Still O.K.
2) Member of the General Assembly getting paid by local governments for unspecified work without a written contract or any evidence of work product? Still O.K.
3) Member of the G.A. able to join a firm who sells lobbying services and “access” to government officials, and profiting from the activities of said lobbying? Still O.K.
4) And when there is evidence of breaking the few rules that exist, does an outside body get to investigate? No, still the job of leadership to “self-police”.

I’m glad you feel good about your talking points. The ACTUAL ethical lapses that have been uncovered during this term of the General Assembly are still quite legal, with no substantial mechanism for outside enforcement.

John Konop April 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Icarus wins by a knock-out punch!

macho April 22, 2010 at 7:59 am

“I spent my early career as a banker, and there were strict rules in place about how money could be handled, dual controls for everything, daily counts, and strict audits.”

I know Bernie Madoff’s clients and the shareholders of all these failed GA banks are very happy we had all those strict rules in place. Fortunately, Obama is going to fix all that with more regulation.

Dave Bearse April 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Madoff wasn’t running a bank so what’s your point?

NorthGAGOP April 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

This bill is just like putting lipstick on a pig.

Progressive Dem April 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

No gift limits.

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 9:35 am

Of course not. It’s the mentality of “we work hard for little money, we’re entitled to be bribed”.

Old Vet April 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

And speaking of the new, more ethical General Assembly, watch for Glenn Richardson’s “dead peasants” insurance bill to resurrect in the last two days of the session, with new and high ranking (if invisible) backers.

Gerald April 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

GOPGeorgia:

You sound like a black voter wedded to the Democratic Party. “Keep voting for the Democrats, because no matter how incompetent or corrupt they are, and no matter how often they fail to deliver our agenda, the other side is still worse.”

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Look, I am not saying that you have to go pull the lever for the pro-homosexual, pro-affirmative action, pro-abortion socialist Democrats. Why when you have a ton of pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-affirmative action (for their own cronies and lobbyists that is) socialist Republicans to choose from? But AT LEAST find a DIFFERENT bunch of GOPers to sell you down the river than this last bunch.

griftdrift April 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Is that an ala carte menu where I can choose the pejorative I prefer or is it a one size fits all pejorative?

GOPGeorgia April 23, 2010 at 9:43 am

Gerald,

Full disclosure, I am a party officer of the GOP. Do you really think that I would be telling to voters to vote Dem just because the people we elect are not perfect? It is OK for me to tell voters to find better Republicans that what we have, but nine times out of ten, our worst is better than their (dems) best if both candidates are sticking close to their party’s platform.

How am I doing on the “Teriq Aziz” award for filling the role of the minister of propoganda today?

Dave Bearse April 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

“[B]ut nine times out of ten, our worst is better than their (dems) best if both candidates are sticking close to their party’s platform.”

That’s such a big if that the statement’s of little use.

John Konop April 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

GOPGeorgia ie Doug Grammer,

Would you support Gerald if he ran as a Republican?

Doug Grammer April 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I don’t know enough about him and it depends on whoelse is running. So far, I don’t know.

John Konop April 24, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Gerald,

Do you post with your white hood on or off?

ByteMe April 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Didn’t seem racist to me. Seemed more ironic than anything.

Harry April 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

Progressive Dem,

According to the AJC: “An earlier proposal by Ralston, to ban lobbyists from texting legislators during session or committee meetings, was dropped after the Democrats objected.”

Why would the Democrats object to this proposal?

ByteMe April 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

And why would the minority party objecting be enough for the Speaker to bail on the proposal? Seems like he’d have the votes to do it over their objections… unless there’s something else going on that the AJC didn’t mention.

griftdrift April 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Because it’s stupid?

Harry April 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Why stupid? Why should legislators be taking direction, threats and offers from lobbyists on the floor prior to votes? Why would Democrats object to this specific proposal?

griftdrift April 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I would ask for evidence of this but I know you don’t believe in pesky things like evidence, Harry.

Mozart April 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Gosh, too bad the legislature exempted themselves from being open-recorded, eh, Grift? Wonder why they did that?

Kinda difficult to obtain evidence when it is prohibited form doing that. Better question than demanding “proof” Grift would be to ponder WHY the legislature deems it necessary to exempt themselves from the Open Record laws.

griftdrift April 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

On text messages? Are you really talking about open records on text messages? Do you have any idea what a nightmare that would be? And if it’s done on a personal phone, does that qualify? I am a strong advocate of transparency but there comes a point where you are killing a fly with a sledge hammer.

Mozart April 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Grift…the text messages are all sitting on the phone carrier’s servers. The owner of the phone gets billed based on the text messages, and even if they have an unlimited plan, those text messages are all still being recorded on thousands of RAIDs.

So, to your question, the answer is not the “nightmare” you suspect it will be. These text messages are all stored in a database of some sort tied to the phone number of the texter account.

What will be the “nightmare” as you put it, will be the nightmare the legisaltors experience when someone ORs them and their sexting is discovered and publicized.

griftdrift April 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm

And based on this logic, we should ban email as well.

Oh and one other thing. Exactly how would this be enforced. Random phone checks?

Stupid.

Harry April 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Assuming all of the above you write is correct, why did Democrats object and Republicans didn’t? I think there’s more to the story. As the minority party, Democrats have been playing a lot of inside baseball the session to get some things they wanted in for example the transportation bill. Lobbyists and special interests, knowing this, are able to text the legislators and control the state of play on the floor with respect to MARTA etc. In this game, taxpayers and transparency are the losers.

Dave Bearse April 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm

So what exactly did Dems get on the transportation bill?

You’re kidding yourself if you think it was a repreive for the minimum 50% capex requirement. Let’s review other points… Opt out doesn’t matter, MARTA singled out from 100 public transportation servies for restrictions, a “roundtable” tilted toward the burbs.

Yeah, the Dems ran a hard bargain.

Jeff April 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I’m with grift here. I highly encourage legislators to use tech during floor sessions and committee meetings – it is THE fastest way to get word out.

Speaking of, I highly encourage legislators to participate in our free-wheeling Sine Die Live Blog, which we will be running next Thursday, assuming everything goes according to current (as I know it) plans. (Once again, I know it will be on GLW/SWGAPolitics.com, I assume it will also be here on PeachPundit, and possibly some others.)

Chris April 23, 2010 at 6:14 am

I do hope the CIL console for iPad is released in time.

ready2rumble April 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

It’s stupid

ready2rumble April 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

What’s not stupid is that they are exempt from Open Records laws. The “we are making law’s” argument doesn’t fly – as county commissioners, and city council members make laws, and they are not exempt.

David Staples April 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

“1) Is it still legal for a member of the General Assembly to have sexual relations with a lobbyist?”

The wording of this really made me think about the situation. You see, when legislators write bills they don’t always think about the repercussions they can have. So here’s a few things to think about…

1. Is the lobbyist married to the member of the General Assembly? Would you say that if a lobbyist were married to a member of the General Assembly tha they are prohibited from having sexual relations during the months that the GA is in session? If so, how do you monitor that?

2. Are there other situations that we could be outlawing such as the above that need to be thought out to ensure that we’re not limiting what should be considered private relations of a legislator? Sleeping with a legislator to get a bill passed is one thing… sleeping with them for love, drunkenness at a bar or whatever else without any intentions of encouraging them to pass a particular bill is another.

In The Arena April 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Austin Scott met his wife Vivian at the capitol. She was a democratic lobbyist and he was a Representative.

Nothing unethical came out of that union, only a healthy marriage and a couple that contributes greatly to Georgia politics and to our state as a whole.

polisavvy April 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Actually, you almost have the story correct. Yes, he did meet Vivien at the Gold Dome. Yes, she was at one point in time a Democrat (so was I for that matter). Where your story is off is that she was employed by the State Legislature and was a State employee. She was not a lobbyist.

Howard Masters April 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Was he single when they met?

Dave Bearse April 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

That’s never stopped the General Assembly from making ill-conceived law as we’ve seen with sexual offender registries and restrictions.

drjay April 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

“Hooray. We have ethics reform.”

is that like hooray, beer!!!?

David Staples April 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Possibly somewhat, but ethics reform is preached for on Sunday whereas beer is preached against.

Bucky Plyler April 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I have two honest questions that may end up being rhetorical.

1.) Can anyone give me examples of current ethics laws in any state that have solved ethical problems in state govt. ? (measureable?)
2) How does one set up a better way to audit behavior than we currently have in place? (use politicians on ethics committees or not,who sets “audit” standards?)

Republican Lady April 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

http://www.gmanet.com/CitiesOfEthics.aspx?CNID=19980

Here is a guideline on how cities can get the name City of Ethics and it has to do with ethical officials.

Republican Lady April 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Here is a guideline on how cities can get the name City of Ethics and it has to do with ethical officials.

http://www.gmanet.com/CitiesOfEthics.aspx?CNID=19980

Bucky Plyler April 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

Thanks Rep. Lady. I was aware that GMA had this program and I tink it’s good. However, I doubt that GMA does any enforcement whatsoever. Each city council is left up to policing itself.

That only works well if you have ethical mayors & councilmen.

Republican Lady April 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Exactly and if a city gets it, I don’t remember if it can be taken away. I need to go back and re-read that portion. I wonder, given the current political climate, if states could ever qualify for Ethical State awards.

forthepeople April 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Why does Gary Black (one Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner) always get a PASS from you guys. He is making over $100,000 a year, still working, from a NON-PROFIT organization. He happens to be the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. They are a lobby group for Agriculture companies mostly chemical and fertilizer . . . They are supposed to be working for the farmer and sometimes do. How can Mr. Black be compliant with Georgia ethics policy if he is campaigning while getting paid by a 503c and driving their car all over the state? I think there are IRS violations associated with this also!

Republican Lady April 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Have you contacted Gary Black or his office to ask for an answer to this question? Have you asked IRS?

Doug Grammer April 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

File a complaint if you think he’s done something wrong. Can you prove he’s drving their car?

Doug Grammer April 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I talked with Gary yesterday. I think he’s fine, legally and ethically. If his opponent wants to bring this up, he may wish he didn’t do so.

Ambernappe April 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

For thePeople:
I DID contact the candidate, Mr. Black. Perhaps you should deal in fact, rather than idle gossip and speculation.

Mr. Black is not employed by a “non-profit”. it is a TRADE ASSOCIATION, one which, among other things, promotes practices which affect the kind and quality of the food we eat. In June 2009, Mr. Black ceased lobbying for the group.

I am certain that following declaring formally for office on Monday, April 26, Gary Black will conduct an ethical campaign for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner in which he will further educate Georgians about the specifics of this important office, and ultimately be elected.

Comments on this entry are closed.