Can’t Get Blood From a Turnip

What is the point of an Ethics Commission that makes rulings and fines people, if they can’t collect?

Stanley agreed in 2008 to $65,100 in fines and restitution, but she hasn’t paid a nickel. She says she knew all along that she couldn’t make the payments.

“I didn’t have any income,” Stanley said in an interview. “I told them at the time, ‘I don’t have any job. Until I do work, I can’t really do something … but this is what I’ll try to do.’ ”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Al Dempsey last week ordered Stanley to pay up, but the Ethics Commission can’t collect until she starts earning money again.

Collecting fines takes on a bigger priority next year when Georgia’s new campaign and lobbyist disclosure law, which relies on stiffer fines as an enforcement tool, takes effect.

Please politicians, if you are going to take kickbacks, profiteer from your position, and make money on the backs of hard working Georgians – please just save enough to pay your fines. Thanks.

h/t: AJC

3 comments

  1. Keep in mind Ron that these fines do have to be paid out of personal and not campaign funds, which is part of the teeth of the law…if it affects a candidate’s personal finances, maybe they will be more careful. On that hand I can understand not being able to collect from someone who does not have the personal finances.

    On the other hand, I can’t tell the IRS that they can’t collect if I cheated on my taxes because I don’t have a job. They start seizing assets. I can’t even get out of a speeding ticket fine because I don’t have a job. If I can’t pay, I either go on probation or spend 3 days in jail.

    I use the IRS example because, like the ethic commission, it’s an administrative body. It’s not good enough that someone sign a consent order to pay the fine knowing full well they can’t. I have said before there are many current and former candidates that have late filing fees that go uncollected because the ethics commission does not have the ability to force the payment.

    Common Cause has focused on the wrong issue in Georgia. Donations from one campaign to another is not the biggest ethics crisis in Georgia. The biggest ethics crisis is the fact there is not an ability collect fines that are levied. If we want real ethics reform in Georgia, that will need to be taken care of.

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