Given the multiple controversies surrounding the “State Ethics Commission” (Not it’s real name), this is welcome news. Aaron Sheinin has the details:
The state ethics commission on Monday called for an independent investigation in response to a pair of lawsuits pending against the agency as well as its deepening personnel problems.
The commission wants Attorney General Sam Olens to appoint a special, outside attorney to lead the investigation. The commission faces whistleblower lawsuits by its former director and deputy, both of whom claim they were forced out for pressing an investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign.
The AJC reported earlier in September that current and former commission employees have accused agency director Holly LaBerge of interfering into the investigation, ordering documents removed from the file and bragging about how Deal “owes” her for making the cases go away.
Here’s the problem that we’ve evolved into. The current setup allows for trials in the press. The current setup is within the sphere of both political and appropriations pressure. A politician can go through the entire process, have his/her name cleared and or pay a reasonable fine for the transgression, and still have those within the system call foul.
In short, this system does not work. It does not ensure “justice”. It has little effect on ethics. And when the process is done, people are not either guilty or not guilty. The public is left to decide on their own.
This process is broken.
Let’s hope when the legislature returns to revisit the ongoing discussion of ethics reform, that the focus will be on creating an independent process for ethics charges. It needs to be one to ensure that the process is free of political pressure. It must also ensure that when someone has completed the process, those who were named don’t have to still continue to battle over their name.