How to Stay in the Minority Even Longer: An Open Letter

Senator Gloria Butler, Secretary
Senator Hardie Davis
Senator Lester Jackson

re: Balfour Sanctions

Dear Democrats on the Senate Ethics Committee (Minus George Hooks):

I write in regards to the Ethics Committee meeting held behind closed doors to decide the punishment of Senator Don Balfour for violating ethics rules and Georgia laws. In that meeting, it was decided that Senator Balfour should receive a $5,000 fine for defrauding the state – an accusation that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now reportedly investigating.

The vote to issue those sanctions was apparently unanimous save one Republican Senator, Josh McKoon, so using my powers of deduction I have ascertained that each one of you voted for the sanction, which was received by anyone paying attention as a slap on the wrist.

Why, I ask you, did you feel the need to go along with such a result?

Ethics is the one clear cut issue voters say they care about. You could have voted no, walked outside to a waiting press conference, and spoke to the heavens up on high about the travesty (and it is) that the Senate declined to punish a violation of the public trust. And you would have been right and just in doing so. You may have even been able to change the result.

That apparently is not sufficient justification, so try this on for size. You, as Democrats, are in the minority. Ethics should be your issue. Ethics is the frying pan you hit the majority over the head with repeatedly until you are in the majority. If you can be the party speaking truth to power, you will get disaffected voters. You will get movement. You may even convince the middle (as well as gain the sympathy, if not the vote of the far right) to back you in elections. And, perhaps most importantly, you would give the left a reason to believe.

Belief leads to support, both electorally and financially. You represent a party who hasn’t had the best run of luck lately. When you have an opportunity to do something that is good both morally and electorally in the future, answer the call. You, and everyone who believes in either good government or a two party system, will be glad you did.

 

Potentially Yours,

 

EVERYONE

 

37 comments

  1. Ken says:

    Politicians underestimate the effect of corruption – and that’s what this appears to be – on the general population. I still believe the ’94 turnover in the US House was fueled greatly by the House Banking Scandal and the exemption of Congress to follow the very laws it writes.

    • Napoleon says:

      There was also a lot of retirements before the new law on campaign contributions took effect. If you retired in 1994, you got to keep all the money in your campaign account for your personal use. After 1994, that law changed. But yeah, the corruption paid a part too. It really did in 2006 as well.

        • Napoleon says:

          No, the change was reform of a system that was seen as one that bred the potential for abuse and corruption.

          If I am a Congressman and I know I can keep for my personal use all of my excess campaign funds, then I can more easily be influenced by big donors and those who will bring big donations, especially if I am in leadership and have not had opposition in 20 years.

          18 years later, that system does seem bizarre and corrupt, but it was the way the system worked. You do have to hand it to the Democrats who were in control seeing the need to change the system they created. However, it led to many popular Blue Dog Democrats literally taking the money and running. Many, especially in the South and West were replaced by Republicans.

          • Stefan says:

            Right, I agree, we are saying the same thing. I was indicating that a Democrat retiring in ’94 to convert his campaign cash to personal was violating the public trust, and such an action would have contributed to the general anti-incumbent party mood of that election.

            Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

      • Ken says:

        People like Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Tom “The Hammer” DeLay demonstrated that people don’t like either party to be corrupt or tolerant of corruption.

    • Stefan says:

      If that’s true, why? Ethics, corruption, waste, these are the battle cry of any political insurgency – Tea Party, Occupy (when they are being overtly political), Conservatives under Gingrich, etc. It’s how the Republicans took over Wisconsin (and how the Democrats will take it back).

      And I think you are right about ’94. And ’06. And ’10.

  2. saltycracker says:

    If they roll that card then won’t we expect them to go for tort reform, no gifts, full disclosures, taxes paid in full, maybe even stand against the coming union movement within Obamacare ?
    Nah…..

    • Stefan says:

      Well the middle two could be valid. The ones on the end I don’t quite get. Tort reform is corruption on behalf on insurers if its related at all, the union movement within Obamacare I don’t quite follow (not trolling, I really don’t know what you are referencing).

        • Stefan says:

          Okay, thank you.

          3 things:

          1) That argument requires so much explaining that it wouldn’t gain many adherents.
          2) There are a lot of suppositions and a lot that needs to happen before it became anywhere near a reality
          3) Georgia Democrats wouldn’t gain anything from adopting the argument.

          As to the merits:
          1) Doctor’s private practices are folding in massive numbers already, but not into hospitals per se, into HMOs for the purpose of controlling costs. That’s been going on at least since the late 90’s. (The author even recognizes this: “by next year, for example, only 33 percent of doctors will be in private practice, down from 57 percent in 2000.” That’s clearly not Obamacare’s doing, it hasn’t rolled out yet. Notice he didn’t say “they are now employed by hospitals” because they aren’t. They are employed by what are essentially captive corporations held by insurers.

          2) An Independent Contractor who receives payment from the Government is a vendor at best, not an employee. The argument he makes involves home-health care workers and in home day care workers who receive government funds. The first, CNAs probably, already exist and are paid by Medicare in many cases. They aren’t employees. The latter also already exist and have nothing to do with Obamacare AND still aren’t considered employees or can be unionized.

          3) “Mallory Factor” is apparently the author of this column, but in college it was the term we used whenever my buddy Jeff said he was coming out but then didn’t because he went to spend time with his girlfriend, Mallory.

          • saltycracker says:

            Fair points.
            Have a relative, orthopaedic surgeon, built a large practice, sold the land, buildings & practice to a local hospital. Primary reason was malpractice insurance, he had never been sued but a partner had. He took home more with the hospital.
            Fast forward years & the hospital just got taken over by the largest doctor group in town. It is going to get interesting.

            1. Public worker unions should be illegal
            2. Healthcare should be competitive and privatized while heavily regulated.
            The government cannot or will not run it efficiently, adequately control costs, prevent fraud or properly enforce their regulations.

        • Stefan says:

          Yes.

          And that was to point out that it isn’t the same as the others in the list which were all public trust type issues and is of a different character.

    • Stefan says:

      and as to the middle 3, yes, I absolutely agree with you those are issues that resonate in the media and the public. Democrats should consider doing at least the first two, and the third once they make sure their own house is in order.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    Balfour is to PP what the $100 gift cap is to the AJC. Do you guys draw straws to see who gets to blog about it on a particular day?

    • Ken says:

      Bob,

      Sadly, there appears to be a bumper crop of Balfour stories. We don’t have to fight over them. The no-holds-barred, chainsaw-wielding, cage wrestling matches with each participant doused in gasoline are only fought over the Glenn Richardson stories.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          All the Richardson stories are old. Not that this would stop this crowd from pulling an Uncle Rico and living in the past.

          • Ken says:

            Bob,

            You know Richardson is running for office which makes his character an ongoing issue. As a Republican, when I see Glenn Richardson I see Tom Murphy.

            I don’t want the GOP to become the thing we hate and Glenn Richardson is that power-mongering, arrogant thing.

  4. cheapseats says:

    The “Two Party” system has pretty much destroyed our country but I don’t expect it to change in my lifetime. This is really a third-world dictatorship with our unique version of changing dictators back and forth between the two totally corrupt and virtually identical parties. When I retire, it won’t be in the USA.

    • Stefan says:

      Two parties is better than one though, isn’t it?

      I like the idea of picking retirement spots by number of political parties. Things will be entertaining at a minimum.

    • Harry says:

      We’ve checked out several locations but nothing is really any better. Bureaucrats are in control everywhere – and all are jealously protecting their perks and retirement pensions.

  5. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Georgia has a two-party political system?

    Are you sure? Because it appears that in place of a two-party system Georgia instead has a barely-functioning Republican Party that runs only at about 25% of its collective mental capacity and a totally non-existent Democrat Party that seems to have went almost completely extinct about a decade ago.

    Heck, the reason why the relatively few Democrats that remain in the Legislature are not making anywhere as big of an issue out of ethics as one might think that a party out of power might want to make is probably so that they can take advantage of all of the “perks” that the Republicans in power currently enjoy once the seemingly suicidal Georgia GOP completes its series of acts of political self-destruction and those much-anticipated demographic changes in the ‘Crats favor that everyone has been talking about kick completely in.

    Basically the Democrats are most likely thinking that why should they stand in the way of a Republican Party that is bound and determined to do itself in with continued instances of spectacularly incompetent governing and repeated occurances of blatant ethical lapses in judgment (like Balfour being afflicted with sticky fingers syndrome).

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Sticky fingers syndrome? It was a couple hundred bucks and he gave it back. Geez. You’d think it was grand larceny. It’s just all Balfour, all the time around here.

      The reason that the Dems aren’t making a big issue out of this is because unless you live on PP, Atlanta Unfiltered or on AJC.com, you aren’t worried about how much a meal cost for a legislator or where they play golf or whatever. Jobs, education, doing something about transportation, fixing our broken criminal justice system, saving the HOPE scholarship from dwindling even further–these are what your general election voters are thinking about when they go vote. Democrats know this.

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