Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has been pushing to get an ethics bill passed. House Bill 48 would have instituted a $50 cap on gifts to elected officials, required lobbyists to disclose their clients and how much those clients pay them, and switched enforcement of some ethics actions from the partisan Secretary of State's office to a nonpartisan ethics board.
Thanks to the efforts of the Speaker of the House, who happens to belong to the same party as the Guv, the first and third provisions were stripped from the bill and the second, relating to lobbyist disclosure, was watered down. Under the new bill, lobbyists have only to disclose those clients who pay them more than $20,000, but not the amounts.
As Jim Tharpe and Nancy Badertscher report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia ethics laws are among some of the worst in the nation. Despite the efforts by reform groups led by GeorgiaPIRG to back the Governor, backroom deals and legislators too comfy with the status quo put the kibosh on a cleaner form of government. Hopefully Governor Perdue keeps at the stubborn House to provide a better government for citizens in the Peach State. There is some hope that the original version of the bill will be revived in the Senate.