The fine folks over at Creative Loafing honored 15 lawmakers who have truly done their darnedest while serving their God-fearing, hard-working constituents with the 2012 edition of the Golden Sleaze awards.
For the first time in quite a while (probably ever) not a single Democrat made the list. Perhaps that’s less indicative of their (relative) moral high ground and more indicative of their growing inefficacy at the Gold Dome.
Longtime Sleaze fans will recognize some familiar faces such as: Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov Casey Cagle, Rep. Mike Jacobs and newcomers such as Rep. Doug McKillip (prediction: expect him to become a perpetual honoree as he shores up his GOP bona fides).
Special attention ought to be paid to Sen. Don Balfour (also a 2011 and 2009 honoree) for his “Heir to Glenn Richardson” Award.
Someone should check on Balfour, who as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee is arguably the most powerful member of the upper chamber — the Snellville Republican’s getting sloppy. Ever since the lobbyists’ best friend helped ram through legislation that would allow Georgia Power to charge ratepayers in advance for two new nuclear reactors, Balfour’s upped the ante for ballsy bills that are blatant reach-arounds for corporate interests. And the Waffle House executive simply does not give a damn if you call him out on such antics. First, Balfour managed to achieve the impossible by bringing together labor unions and the Tea Party in opposition to his bill that would, among other things, ban labor protests — and just labor protests — outside CEOs’ residences and punish mass picketing with a steep fine. (Bill supporters stressed to Tea Party members, who wisely opposed the measure, that the bill wouldn’t prohibit protests outside abortion doctors’ homes or strip clubs. Thanks, guys!) He followed up this masterpiece with a quizzical measure that critics said could allow developers to weasel out of repaying loans. Yes, the private developers who helped put Georgia in its mess of overbuilt, low-quality homes, need a bailout. And when Senate lawmakers watered down legislation that would discourage lawmakers from diverting fees dedicated to tire cleanups or driver’s education courses, Balfour said with almost refreshing candor: “We have been doing this for 20 years and I keep getting re-elected.” Perhaps Balfour’s just feeling a little under pressure from the fact that he’s the subject of an ethics complaint that alleges he charged taxpayers for gas mileage when he’s in other states speaking at conventions — not to mention also while he’s in town during the session. And rather than driving the 30 minutes to Snellville, he spends the night in a Midtown condo he pays for with campaign funds. Maybe one of his Gold Dome friends lives in town and will let him spend the night?
I’m sure that will go on Sen. Balfour’s webpage.
Oh, and then you can read about the legislators who Creative Loafing thinks are actually, you know, doing good in the Arnie Awards. Interestingly, Fran Millar gets both awards.