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Group promotes ethics in government

ALBANY, Ga. -- It may surprise some, but Georgia ranks last among states dealing successfully with ethic problems. New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana rank at the top of that list.

That word came to Albany on Wednesday evening at the Carnegie Library, home of the Albany Area Arts Council, from William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia. State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, joined Perry to tell the small group that showed up -- a total of three seniors -- how a change could be made.

"In Georgia, there is no cap on what lobbyists can give anyone in the State Assembly," McKoon said. "We are one of three states without regulations. As long as it is disclosed, it is legal. We think that is wrong."

Lobbyists and special interest groups spent $2 million on the Legislature, McKoon said. He is dead set against that, he added.

While the turnout Wednesday at the Albany meeting was miniscule, there was interested in ethics reform last summer. In the July 31 party primary elections in Georgia, Democrats asked their voters whether lobbyist spending on state lawmakers should be capped, and 72.6 percent said it should. Republicans went even further, asking voters in their party whether lobbyist spending on a lawmaker should be capped at $100. More than 87 percent of GOP voters said yes.

The two members of the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform came to Albany as part of a statewide swing to communicate what ethics reform can look like, ask people their thoughts and seek their support.

McKoon, who represents Senate District 29, plans to sponsor a four-legged bill with amendments to the state Constitution to put Georgia No. 1 in ethics enforcement.

The comprehensive bill would put a $100 limit on gifts, including food and travel. Because there are 12 people currently working in the ethics commission that oversees more than 4,000 elected officials, McKoon said, the bill would guarantee funding through the Constitution for an expanded ethics commission.

Investigating corruption would be turned over to the state Attorney General's Office. It would include the mechanism to empower a statewide grand jury to hand down indictments.

According to McKoon, members of the Legislature and other state employees would have a waiting period before they could take other jobs with companies doing business with the state. And the Georgia Open records Act would apply to the General Assembly, which is now exempt.

Asked if Gov. Nathan Deal would be on board with the changes, McKoon said he thought so. "The governor has already instituted a limit of $25 on his branch (of the government). I think he is open to meaningful ethics reform."

Sitting across the table from McKoon, Ben Clenney said, "You tell him if he can't do it, I'll come up there and do it for him."

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

" It may surprise some, but Georgia ranks last among states dealing successfully with ethic problems." Why in the world would this surprise anybody living in Albany, GA? With the Governor of Georgia being recognized as being one of the most corrupt politicians in America, why would this surprise anybody in Georgia? With the people of Georgia knowlingly electing a corrupt politician with such a national calibre for its governor what else would you expect? Hell, apparently it's in our DNA. We love it. Look at how we are wallowing in it here in Albany with our school board and governing commissions.

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iko 1 year, 7 months ago

What about unelected Judy "Toilet" Bowles being allowed to harass job creators with government support when jobs are in such dire need?

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

Ethics and Politicians. Now there is a mix that won't come together. State and Federal should be capped at $100 per year. In business I am not supposed to accept anything more than a pen from a vendor. Use the bid process, and make it an open bid. Why shouldn't our elected and appointed officials be held to an even more stringent standard?

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Trustbuster 1 year, 7 months ago

One way to improving ethics in govt. is to allow term limitations for elected and appointed positions in Georgia.

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