Lori Geary of WSB-TV led off their 6PM newscast with a report that Common Cause Georgia, an non-partisan ethics watchdog which claims Republican Bob Irvin as its chair, has filed an ethics complaint against James Christopher Brady, a Virginia based lobbyist who took Speaker David Ralston and his family to experience the European rail network over Thanksgiving.
According to Common Cause, Brady was not a registered lobbyist in Georgia when he took Ralston and his family to Europe or at any time in 2010, and did not disclose the trip as required by the required January 5th, 2011 deadline.
Georgia ethics law puts the burden of disclosure on the lobbyist. Thus, had Brady never registered and disclosed the trip later in 2011, it is unlikely this trip would have ever been reported. Common Cause believes this incident demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the system, and that disclosure requirements are not enough.
“We believe, and have proposed, that lobbyist gifts of this size to officials, their family, and their staff, should be banned,” said William Perry, CCGA Executive Director in a press release. “Opponents of our proposed ban say that large gifts like this should be permitted, as long as they are disclosed. Even that argument, however, only works if lobbyists obey the disclosure laws, which Brady clearly appears not to have done.”
If found guilty, Brady faces penalties of up to $2,000 per violation, and could be banned from lobbying in Georgia for up to one year.