Who’s Lobbying Who, Exactly?

Back in November, Doug Richards of WXIA/11 Alive originally reported on a trip taken by Attorney General Sam Olens to Florida. He took a free plane ride to Palm Beach with an Altria executive, Sean Collins. The correct forms were submitted by the proper parties. Don’t get your knickers all in a knot, at least not yet.

AG Olens was traveling to a Republican Attorneys General Association conference. He used his flight time there and back again to basically lobby the lobbyist. Tobacco companies are trying awfully hard to reduce the settlement payments to states required by the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Olens hoped to convince Altria not to challenge the Georgia settlement (and subsequent cash flow). The jury is still out on whether he made a difference.

The Daily Report contacted Olens’ office and got basically the same answer from his communications officer, Lauren Kane.

Now here is where the tobacco side of the story gets more interesting. The month before Olens’ free plane ride to Florida, Altria donated $40,000 to Casey Cagle’s PAC. Who, by the way, came out against raising taxes on tobacco just a few weeks ago.

Again, all the proper forms were submitted by the proper parties. But don’t you find it interesting that the lobbyist provided travel was reported at the state level, as required, whereas the MONEY was… not. And is NOT required at that level, since it is a donation to a PAC. Just that handy little IRS form will do.

Loop-hole? You betcha. The size of New Jersey.

Just sayin’…

In the meantime, Doug Richards, you keep right on scooping the rest of us.


  1. saltycracker says:

    Lobbyists: Bill needed: All legislators accepting benefits from lobbyists must wear a patch on their suit similar to NASCAR drivers which identifies their sponsor.

    Option: A sash similar to the Boy Scout merit badge display will suffice.

    From the AJC: Rep. Kip Smith spent the hours before his DUI arrest last week with two other state lawmakers being entertained by three lobbyists…..

    Since arriving for his first legislative session in January 2010, Kip Smith has accepted nearly $10,000 in lobbyist meals, trips and gifts.

  2. saltycracker says:

    P.S. Olens…..isn’t he the guy from Cobb Co. that pushed thru an early retirement program for a bunch then took his early retirement and ran for AG ? Then Cobb went on a hiring spree.
    How many of those “retirees” are now double dipping the taxpayers ?

    Or in fairness (or our dreams) maybe there is a bill preventing such stacking of public income from various programs and jurisdictions.

  3. Noway says:

    Regarding double dipping, I have no problem with it. If you complete a career, say, in the Army and get out at 39 with 20 years, you have every right to apply for, compete to get and work another public or private sector job until you reach our traditional retirement age. Are the folks lucky to be able to have opportunities like that? Absolutely! I wish we were all so fortunate. I don’t begrudge them for it.

    • saltycracker says:

      Brings up another side effect: Got a distant relative that retired from the Coast Guard at 49 and $75,000 @ yr. plus benefits – let’s say his package is worth $100k @ yr. At the typical benchmark of a 4% withdrawal rate that means the taxpayers should have built a $2.5 million dollar retirement account for him over 30 years.

      Do you think the taxpayers set or should have set $83,000 @ year (adj. down for time & earnings) aside for him ? Or is there something so fiscally unsound in similar public pensions ?

      I have another distant relative retired from two police chief jobs….that is much sweeter. He may deserve it, but can we afford not just one but two ?

      Would rather pay a teacher more working than the carrot being a lucrative, increasing pension in their early 50’s.

      • JeffD says:

        To paraphrase COL Nathan Jessup:

        ….I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post….

        I love how people who’ve never served are targeting military retirement as a possible source of budget cuts. Serve in a combat zone and then come back and talk to us about that.

          • saltycracker says:

            Interesting conclusions and analogies. Col. Jessup is a fictional character that said what about truth, gays and what he enjoyed from superior female officers ?

            A low percent of the front line combat soldiers hang around to get to the sweet pension level of top administrators. Budgets will be constrained and our money is better spent paying the front line guys more while active, insuring them better if the worst occurs and providing them with the best possible tools of the trade.

            To be a hawk does not require unlimited expense allowances.

  4. brasstownhigh says:

    “Loop-hole? You betcha. The size of New Jersey.”

    So everything was reported properly to the proper authority?

    Federal organizations file federal forms – state organizations file state forms. Where is this loop-hole you speak of?

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