Our friends over at Atlanta Unfiltered have been doing some digging only to discover what many of us already know: our legislators may be using their roles in the General Assembly to benefit their own private businesses.
Atlanta Unfiltered discovered the following:
- Representative James Beverly has collected over $132,000 in taxpayer dollars in his optometry office out of Macon for eye exams.
- Senator John Albers is part of a consulting firm that received $284,000 in funds to reorganize a state agency.
- Representative Jimmy Pruett has charged various state institutions upwards of $419,000 over two years in his air conditioning business.
They aren’t the only ones, though. Down here in my neck of the woods, a South Georgia legislator funneled nearly 50% of his campaign donations to his own printing company, and now does various print contracts for General Assembly members. And on the local level, the outgoing mayor for the city of Claxton holds the contracts for all of the HVAC units in all the city buildings.
Often times, constituents don’t know this is happening because they don’t know where to look. Personal financial disclosures don’t show these receipts, either, since the law is unclear and a campaign finance attorney could easily argue -under current law – that the disclosures aren’t required.
Regardless, the public’s tolerance of what smells funny and what is ethically acceptable seems to be dwindling. As my favorite saying goes, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”