July 5, 2012

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

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

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 meals and lodging from lobbyists for massive corporations like Georgia Power and AT&T.

The Cable Television Association of Georgia bought him a $104.55 dinner on February 29th. A month later, the Electric Cities of Georgia paid $121.95 for a dinner with its board members. At the same time, it spent $200 on a hotel room for the lawmaker at its annual convention. AGL Resources spent the most on a single dinner for the representative, paying $146.03.

Out of any gift Parsons received this year, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce was most generous. It spent $431.63 just last month for lodging for its Spring Government Affairs Conference.

As Georgia columnist Dick Yarborough notes, polling found that  “82 percent of the Republicans” in the state want to see caps on expenditures for lawmakers by lobbyists.

But Parsons seems fine belittling the vast majority of people in his own party who want to limit these gifts. Why wouldn’t he? He must enjoy the $146 dinners on lobbyists’ tabs.