Jim Walls: Ethics Reform For Dummies Part 1

March 26, 2013 12:00 pm

by Charlie · 3 comments

Jim Walls, former AJC editor and publisher of Atlanta Unfiltered, has the following suggestions to help the House and Senate close that little gap they’re having at the 11th hour over what they are calling ethics reform.  Walls has probably dedicated more time than any person I know going over the information that has been made available through disclosures.  As such, his advice below is based on the experience of someone who routinely reads the incomplete disclosures of events that are only tangentially related to official duties.  Click here so his advertisers know he’s doing good work; his first list of suggestions is below:

1) Limit lobbyist gifts to $25 per day, with a limit of four per year.
That allows them to buy you a meal and a beer, but not the bottles of wine
that really drive up the cost up of these $100 meals. And no gifts for
spouses. Pay for those yourselves. Suck it up.

2) Make all legislators post all gifts from organizations with an interest
in legislation, regardless of whether a lobbyist paid for them, on their
official House or Senate website. If the American Legislative Exchange
Council gives you a scholarship to attend a meeting, all you have to do is
disclose it. Transparency doesn’t hurt.

3) Allow lobbyists to pay for your travel, lodging etc. only if you are
required to attend because of your public office. Current language in your
bills regarding expenses “related to official duties” is much too vague.
How many times does the top leadership in the House (Mark Burkhalter, Jan
Jones and Ed Lindsey so far) have to visit Southern California to see
Georgia State University’s telescope? If those guys can’t take good notes
to share with the rest of you, stop letting them go.

4) Ban lobbyists from giving you tickets to state universities’ athletic
events. Instead, let them give you tickets to university lectures,
academic competitions, art galleries and the like. If you wanna see the
Dawgs on Saturday, pay for it yourself. With your own money. Just like
everybody else.

5) Prohibit lobbyists from buying you any meal or other gift unless they
disclose the specific bill, regulation, contract or policy issue to be
discussed. At least 90 percent don’t do that now. And make them attach a
client’s name each time, which they don’t have to do now, so they can’t
just say the gift was on behalf of their lobbying firm. All other gifts
would be illegal. You can still have lunch with your old legislative
buddies now that they’re making the big bucks trying to talk you into
something. You just gotta go Dutch.

It’s a good start.  It’s also likely to fall on deaf ears.

MattMD March 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Great ideas. Perhaps this would significantly lower Georgia’s corruption risk from 50 out of 50 states?

Bob Loblaw March 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOFkUaSSJR8

Since context is required, here’s what it’s like when Peach Pundit publishes Jim Walls on Day 39 in a Session where Ethics is front and center. Almost 9 hours after the entry.

Falls on deaf ears alright. Everyones’. But 88% of the people want this! What’s wrong with you people? These folks are good at dealing with people!!!!! They are ethical!!

Dave Bearse March 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

As to (1), I’m guessing that’s four per year per lobbyist, but I’m on board with four per year, period.

These are all proposals that legislators could personally pledge to support sans law. As to (5), legislators can require of the lobbyist that the lobbyist report indicate the legislation/policy/subject and client when legislators accept a gift and tell the lobbyist lose my number if the lobbyists report doesn’t indicate legislation and client.

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