July 26, 2012

Chairman Of Georgia House Ethics Committee Shills For Lobbyist Gifts

Chairman Of Georgia House Ethics Committee Shills For Lobbyist Gifts
Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Atlanta)

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 the cap have themselves violated campaign finance laws by turning in campaign reports late, for example.

While this is is a matter that is worth addressing, it pales in comparison to the daily legalized corruption that Wilkinson supports among lobbyists.

Here’s a look at just some of the gifts that he’s personally gotten from lobbyists:

– Football Tickets: In October of last year, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority gave the lawmaker $328.00 worth of tickets to the Falcons vs. Packers NFL game.

– Cookies: Ever gotten a basket of cookies worth $90? Wilkinson has. The Georgia Dental Association delivered one to his office in March of last year.

– Hotels: The Georgia Dental Association paid $266.40 for Wilkinson to stay at a swanky Marriott hotel in Atlanta for its annual meeting.

These are great perks, and they probably are a much more important ethical issue than filing a campaign finance reform late. Wilkinson appears to be trying to distract from his own gifts from lobbyists in order to combat a modest but important reform.