Majority Whip Ed Lindsey notes the following of his peers with respect to their unpaid taxes:
On Sunday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a detailed list of House and Senate legislative candidates who have serious outstanding federal, state, and local tax liens assessed against them. The size of the list and the amount of money owed is disturbing. I am sympathetic — particularly in these times — of folks who are in financial dfficulty. However, I have always believed that before you go into politics you make sure your Faith, Family, and Finances are in order because all three will be tested and possibly strained in the political meat grinder of our system of government. It is just the way it is.
House Ethics Chairman Joe Wilkinson takes the message and puts a finer point on it:
It is disappointing, ironic and hypocritical that 49 candidates for the Georgia House of Representatives who signed a petition to impose a $100 lobbyist gift cap on lawmakers are themselves in violation of ethics and campaign finance laws. These candidates have failed to file, or filed late, their required Declaration of Intent (due when they first qualified to run), their Personal Financial Disclosure (due 15 days after qualifying to run), and their Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report (which was due July 9),” says state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R- Sandy Springs. “All either have already been fined or expect to be fined shortly as required by Georgia law.”
“These are major violations by both Democrats and Republicans. These candidates should pay their fines and file the required reports immediately if they truly believe in full, open and immediate transparency,” the chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives Ethics Committee says. “On the one hand they seek to promote so-called ‘ethics’ by endorsing a meaningless ‘gift ban’ yet on the other hand are behaving unethically by flouting current laws.”
“They should certainly pay the fines mandated by law before the July 31 primaries,” Wilkinson continues. “I would remind them that the fines cannot be paid with campaign funds and that the first $25.00 of each fine goes to fund the state’s Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.”
“These current laws are tough and, unlike the proposed $100 lobbyist expense cap, actually work. Unfortunately, caps lead to non-reporting and underground lobbying. We’ve seen this in other states. If they worked and were not merely a public relations gimmick, they would have been put in place years ago,” Wilkinson says.
Attached with this electronic release is a list obtained from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission of candidates offering for the office of state representative this year who signed the cap pledge but are in violation of state laws. Also attached are the code sections regarding the reporting requirements.
Note that opposition to the gift caps has mostly come from the state house. Note that many in the House feel that some Senators are now grandstanding over the issue given that they believe Speaker Ralston will stop any gift cap that they vote for (while they continue to enjoy gifts over $100). Note that the “Ethics Express” is still in the vacinity of Blue Ridge Georgia, home of the Speaker to whom the two men above report.
With all those notes, you can sing your own tune as you draw your own conclusions.