Columbus Convention An Opportunity For GOP To Demand Ethics Reform

Today’s Courier Herald Column

This Friday, Republicans from across Georgia will gather in Columbus for a two day State GOP Convention. There will be a lot of speeches made, a considerable amount of mixing and mingling between elected officials and the grass roots leadership of the party, and the occasional stops within hospitality suites where those running or looking to run for office entice would be supporters with hors d’oeuvres and perhaps an adult beverage or two. Perhaps.

The official purpose of this gathering is to nominate the delegates and alternates who will represent Georgia in Tampa later this year when the Republican National Committee meets to nominate Mitt Romney, his chosen running mate, and hash out the details of the party platform. This will not take the two days allocated, and so there will be a bit of time that needs filling.

In between the speeches by most of Georgia’s Republican members of the congressional delegation and statewide elected officials, there will be resolutions offered. Providing that the resolutions committee sends to the floor one of the resolutions offered by various district conventions held last month, there will be at least one resolution asking if convention delegates agree that the Republican dominated legislature needs to get serious about offering meaningful ethics reform.

Because the nature of the convention is to project what the party stands for, and who shall stand for it, passing a meaningful and clearly worded ethics resolution must be a priority for the delegates. It should not be sanitized as a mealy mouthed statement affirming high ethical values from elected officials. It must instead embrace the reality that Georgia’s ethics laws are meaningless and unenforceable. It must demand action from the Republican elected officials who will be working the crowd of faithful Friday and Saturday.

As such, those faithful need to let their state level elected officials have an ear-full on ethics. Words should not be minced. The tone deaf approach to ethics is not what we promised when we were on the journey to becoming a majority. If the leadership of the grass roots and the party itself is silent on the issue, then we must accept the fact that ethical governance was merely sloganeering of convenience whose time has passed.

The GOP Chairman, Sue Everhart, herself ran for re-election last year on a platform of independence from the Governor and ostensibly other elected officials so that the party could remain a guiding force for Republican principles. As such, it is incumbent on her to reiterate the party’s demands that Georgia be governed according to the strongest ethics laws in the country, not the worst.

The Republican legislature has already proven incapable of self-governance. The response to a Speaker leaving under an ethical cloud was to gut the ethics commission, re-name it, and ensure that there are barely enough staff to even process required forms of self-disclosure. There are no remaining margins for initiative or investigation.

On the current ethics issue facing Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, the Senate Ethics Committee met in secret, only to quickly decide along the narrowest definitions of Senate Rules that they did not have the jurisdiction to handle the complaint before them. Yet instead of then referring the complaint to a body that does have jurisdiction such as Georgia’s Attorney General, they chose to “continue” the meeting so as to not have to act on the complaint before them, nor let anyone else. They are, instead, “investigating” a complaint that they have already voted they do not have jurisdiction to handle. That, currently, is how we deal with ethics in Republican controlled Georgia Government.

Republicans will hear a lot of speeches Friday and Saturday. Many will deal with how the President of another party must be removed so that order can be restored to the government in Washington D.C.

The speeches that we need to hear in Columbus, however, have to do with how we deal – and don’t deal – with ethical transgressions of government and abuse of power here at home.

Republicans have a chance at their gathering this weekend to firmly and clearly say where they stand on the need for ethics reform for Georgia’s government. Failure to say anything will be the loudest statement possible to condone the status quo, and the pattern of practices for ethical failure that has become commonplace in this Republican Georgia.

43 comments

  1. xdog says:

    Charlie, I very much admire your idealism, but if you expect gopers to make any substantive changes in how they conduct business unless forced to at the ballot box, then I am afraid you will be disappointed.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      This.

      Efforts to try to get an unethical legislature to pass ethics legislation on itself, even if such reforms are passed, will not likely be effective. So the GOP is back to square one, which is, they need to ‘kick the bums out’, but they can’t because they’re worried that challenging an incumbent means a nasty ‘ole democrat might win.

      Cries for ethics reform is a bunch of hot-air, if you ask me. “Oooh wee! I’m so mad I’m gonna . . . vote for you again.”

  2. SallyForth says:

    “Because the nature of the convention is to project what the party stands for, and who shall stand for it, passing a meaningful and clearly worded ethics resolution must be a priority for the delegates. It should not be sanitized as a mealy mouthed statement affirming high ethical values from elected officials. It must instead embrace the reality that Georgia’s ethics laws are meaningless and unenforceable. It must demand action from the Republican elected officials who will be working the crowd of faithful Friday and Saturday.”
    AMEN & AMEN!!

  3. drjay says:

    based on the 08 convo experience, my guess is the only thing that is really going to go on in columbus is randy evans is going to have to run a really tight session to ward off various challenges from ron paul faithful to get everything that has to get done, done and there will not be much time or interst in getting much else addressed…

  4. elfiii says:

    “Because the nature of the convention is to project what the party stands for, and who shall stand for it, passing a meaningful and clearly worded ethics resolution must be a priority for the delegates.”

    I shan’t hold my breath lest I expire from self asphyxiation.

  5. CobbGOPer says:

    Don Balfour has a response for you Charlie:

    “We been doing this 20 years and I keep getting re-elected.”

  6. Doug Grammer says:

    “It must instead embrace the reality that Georgia’s ethics laws are meaningless and unenforceable. It must demand action from the Republican elected officials who will be working the crowd of faithful Friday and Saturday.”

    It must…it must…

    While I agree that a discussion on ethics is not and should not be over, I think it’s very presumptive to tell all of the convention delegates what they MUST do. As far as I know, a platform vote is not on the agenda. Contrary to what some believe and speaking for myself, I don’t take marching orders from anyone. That includes Sue Everheart and Charlie Harper. I imagine most of the delegates feel the same way.

    Now if you have enough sway with the resolutions committee to have a resolution brought up, I lean toward agreeing with it, depending on the language.

    Sometimes the tone changes the message. Now if you were to say, I suggest:…, you would have a more receptive ear on my part. You are either a tad late to be running for GA GOP Chairman or very early.

    If you want to make a bigger difference where the votes are actually cast, qualifying is next week. I know you’ve ran before. If you have the passion to tell everyone in the Georgia GOP legislature what they MUST do, I’d run for the State House before I ran for Speaker, or I’d run for State Senate before I ran for Lt. Gov.

  7. AMB says:

    Suggest to those crooks that they might want to change, pretty please?

    What are you smoking, Doug?

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Well if you are going to get them to do anything, I wouldn’t start the conversation by calling them crooks.

      I don’t smoke. Anything.

      • Three Jack says:

        “I wouldn’t start the conversation by calling them crooks.” If the truth fits, wear it.

        Regarding the admonition from Charlie, it is really too late for ‘must’ do because they didn’t do when they had the chance and nobody was looking. Now it is the voters who ‘must’ impose term limits as they should be done, through the ballot box. Those serving now had mulitple opportunities over the past 10 years to address ethics, they went to dinner and on trips instead. Too late, they ‘must’ now find out what it’s like to pay for lunch, dinner and trips.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        And so long as the party continues to be run by people like Doug, ethics will NOT be a priority.

        • Doug Grammer says:

          I like brownies and milk, but not all kinds of brownines. I haven’t tried ALL kinds of brownines.

  8. Rick Day says:

    Good luck with all that. In the meantime, I am building a perfectly legal, bonafied Free $peech War Chest™

    Gonna buy some Genuine Criminal Justice™ Reform.

    Bytchez love Genuine Criminal Justice™

  9. Bull Moose says:

    The elected officials of the GOP expect party activists to act like sheep. And too often, the GOP activists and business interest crowd follows right along on script.

    They are expected to accept what they are told as the gospel and follow marching orders without asking questions even when it flies in the face of common sense.

    This ethics mess is a time bomb waiting to go off and yet reasonable men and women in the Georgia State Senate are scared to call one of their own on the carpet for stealing from the taxpayers in the face of an abundance of proof.

    And if you think that’s the only corruption in Atlanta, then you are indeed a fool. For as long as people keep voting the party line for the sake of the letter behind a name, the more they expose themselves as just sheep headed to the slaughter.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Bull Moose,

      At least the “sheep” aren’t afraid to enter the convention under their own name. I love watching all of you anonymous posters bash the people who work for free to keep the party going.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        I love watching political partisans – that depend on the votes of independents to get their candidates elected – talking down to those voters and doing their best to drive them away because they have the temerity to criticize said partisan’s party on a policy matter.

        And while it’s fine and dandy you have the freedom to post on political sites under your real name, many people still work for private companies that can and will hold their opinions against them.

        • Doug Grammer says:

          If we are talking about reality, 90% of the people who come on this blog already have their mind made up on who they will vote for when it comes to a national election. Most private companies do not check to see what their employees do after work.

          • CobbGOPer says:

            I’m sure you have citations for this ‘reality?’ Perhaps some Google Analytics we can look at?

            And if most companies don’t check to see what their employees do after work, what exactly do you call drug testing? Are you also so out of touch that you’re oblivious to the practices of hiring managers to investigate the online footprints of potential employees? Have you missed the hundreds of news stories over the last decade admonishing people who put too much information online, because potential employers look at that stuff now? Maybe you missed the whole recent kerfuffle over employees having to provide their Facebook passwords?

            • Doug Grammer says:

              Most is defined by 50% +1. Do you have any data to support that most companies are drug testing? Or that most companies look online for facebook remarks when hiring? Many people are checked out by employers when first hired, but after that, MOST companies don’t care what you do in your spare time as long as it doesn’t impair job performance.

              • CobbGOPer says:

                “Many people are checked out by employers when first hired, but after that, MOST companies don’t care what you do in your spare time as long as it doesn’t impair job performance.”

                Yeah, tell that to Juan Williams, pal.

                • Doug Grammer says:

                  OK, you have named one high profile reporter. I’ll name every employee of McDonalds and Walmart within a 200 mile radius. Your turn.

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      I said I could name them. I didn’t say I knew them. I didn’t even say I would get their names right.

                      I will still bet that their employers don’t care what they post on the internet unless it relates directly to their job.

                • Three Jack says:

                  Ironically we received an email w/guidelines for posting on FB/Twitter, etc. yesterday asking that employees be cautious in what they put on these sites as it may detrimentally affect the company. I have to agree w/CobbGOPer here in that most companies care about what their employees do during off hours…drug testing, background checks and increasingly concerned about social website postings.

  10. Bull Moose says:

    Oh, and for what it is worth, I did email my elected State Senator, Buddy Carter, several times as he sits on the Ethics Committee. Not once did I get any response from him, even when I plainly asked for a response. So much for a responsive elected official… Very disappointing.

  11. Jimmie says:

    There is no doubt this needs to be done. Chances of it happening at the State Circle J*rk aren’t very good. Good Ole Boy Randy has the whole thang planned out already. I’m not sure I will be able to withstand all the Smoke being blown up the Convention’s A** this weekend. How many speakers? 20+ each day? Can I get a penny for every time they mention how bad Obama is? Curious to see which Romney they tout too. There are many to choose from. The Newt is speaking too? Now we can hear him tell us how great Mitt is. This stuff is great!

    • Three Jack says:

      May I suggest taking a shot everytime they slam Obama instead of getting a penny…it will make the proceedings semi-tolerable.

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