August 1, 2012

Georgia Voters Of Both Parties Revolt Against Corruption

Imagine if lobbyists could give virtually anything they wanted to lawmakers, ranging from a gift basket of cookies to a Mercedes Benz.

This isn’t some dark fairy tale. In Georgia, it’s reality. Lobbyists can give virtually whatever gift they want to lawmakers.

But in recent month, a rowdy coalition of tea partiers and progressives have been campaigning to place a modest cap on these gifts that lobbyists can give to legislators — $100 value per gift.

Last night, in the statewide primary election, voters in both parties overwhelmingly approved of non-binding ballot questions approving of such a lobbyist gift cap. Here’s a

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July 26, 2012
Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Atlanta)

Chairman Of Georgia House Ethics Committee Shills For Lobbyist Gifts

You’d think that if there’s anyone who should be for curtailing the influence of lobbyists and other ethics reforms, its the chair of the ethics committee in the legislature, right?

In Georgia, you’d be wrong. A trans-partisan coalition of tea partiers and progressives have been pushing for a cap of $100 on gifts that lawmakers give lobbyists. Right now, that there is no cap. Lobbyists could give a lawmaker a Lamborghini if they wanted to.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R) is standing in the way of these reforms. He recently claimed that many of the candidates who are running for office who support …

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July 13, 2012

In Georgia, Tea Party And Progressives Go On Bus Tour To Fight Lobbyists

We’ve been continually reporting on the tea party-progressive movement in Georgia to demand a lobbyist gift cap so that lobbyists can no longer give any gifts to lawmakers that cost more than $100 (Georgia is today one of three states where lobbyists can give unlimited gifts to legislators).

At least 130 sitting state lawmakers or legislative candidates have signed a pledge promising to support a $100 cap on gifts to lawmakers, an important step ahead of Georgia’s state legislative primaries at the end of this month. There will also be non-binding ballot questions both for Democrats and Republicans …

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July 5, 2012
Rep. Don Parsons (R). He may be smiling because lobbyists keep buying him great free dinners.

Georgia Lawmaker Calls Lobbying Gift Cap Silly, But Gets Hundreds Of Dollars In Meals From Lobbyists

Momentum continues to grow in the state of Georgia, as both tea partiers and progressives are pushing hard to enact a lobbyist gift cap that would cap lobbyist gifts to lawmakers at $100.

Recently, Rep. Don Parsons (R) called the cap “silly,” and refused to sign on to a pledge to push for such a reform. Parsons has good reason to find this reform silly — it would cut off a major gravy train for him.

According to records released by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Parsons has received hundreds of dollars in …

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June 11, 2012
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge)

Georgia House Speaker Who Opposes Lobbying Gift Cap Went On $17,000 Lobbyist-Funded European Trip

As we reported earlier, last month the conservative Georgia Tea Party Patriots united with the progressive Georgia Common Cause group to demand lobbying reform in the state that would require cap the value of individual gifts given to legislators by at $100. The cap is a modest measure as it would still allow lobbyists to give as many $100 dollar gifts to lawmakers as they wanted.

This left-right-center movement for a lobbyist gift cap comes as Georgia lawmakers are being wined and dined by lobbyists and being given all sorts of expensive gifts to influence them.

Nearly 70 legislators

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June 7, 2012

SLIDESHOW: Here Are Some Of The Gifts Lobbyists Are Giving Georgia Lawmakers

Last week, we reported that Georgia tea partiers and progressives are uniting to demand that state lawmakers sign a pledge endorsing a $100 per-day gift ceiling for lobbyists in their state. Right now, lobbyists can spend virtually anything they want, and sometimes it’s not even properly disclosed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that more and more Georgia lawmakers are taking this pledge, although many of them have yet to back corresponding legislation. Limiting gifts to $100 per-day is a very modest reform and still would allow lobbyists to have tons of influence in the state. It’s remarkable that …

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May 31, 2012
Georgia's voters want lobbying reform.

Georgia Tea Partiers And Progressives Unite To Demand Lobbying Reforms

In July, Georgia’s Democratic and Republican Party voters will get a chance to tell their respective political parties that there needs to be lobbying reform.

Ballots for both parties will ask “questions about limiting the value of meals, tickets and other gifts lobbyists give to state legislators. The questions are nonbinding but will give policymakers insight into how voters feel about the issue.”

The Athens Banner-Herald and the Georgia Newspaper Partnership conducted a poll of Georgia voters last December asking them about lobbying reform. Here’s the key result:

Seventy-two percent of Georgia voters polled by the Banner-Herald and the Georgia Newspaper Partnership in December supported …

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April 27, 2012
Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-GA)

Former ALEC Chairman Responds To Criticism With Homophobic Slur

The corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) does not handle criticism well. In a Marietta Daily Journal piece today, a number of Georgia legislators defended their membership in the corporate lobby. One in particular, Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R), a former national chairman of ALEC, bitterly lashed out at the ALEC critics at Better Georgia. He called Bryan Long, executive director of the organization and a gay man, an “Occupy pansy“:

Mr. Long doesn’t like free speech, doesn’t like advocacy for anything other than what he wants. The majority of the citizens in this county and this state are …

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