The session may have come and gone, but our resolve to pass ethics reform should not. This year we got closer than ever before to our goal with comprehensive ethics bills in each chamber, and all limited lobbyist gifts to $100. But to our dismay, neither bill was even discussed in committee. Despite recent poll findings that GA citizens want lobbyist gift caps, and public support from the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform none of our Republican elected officials were willing to co-sponsor the bills.
Clearly we cannot wait for our legislators to do the right thing on their own (they refused to support the reform legislation). It’s been over twenty years since we had a significant overhaul of our ethics laws and finding like that of the State Integrity Investigation are clear examples that it’s time for a change. Among other states, Georgia is embarrassingly intolerant of ethics enforcement. Because of our legislators’ failure to act in our best interest, Georgia is ripe for potential corruption, earning the unfortunate distinction of being the worst in the nation. We’re one of only three states that have no cap on lobbyist gifts. It’s up to us as Georgia citizens to ensure this kind of embarrassment never happens again. It’s time for us to get loud about our demands.
Well Common Cause Georgia is teaming up with the Georgia Tea Party Patriots and Georgia Conservatives in Action to make sure that next year there will be plenty of co-signers to go around. Together they are going to make lobbyist gifts and ethics reform an election issue, and are calling on all General Assembly Candidates to sign a lobbyist gift cap pledge.
A signature alone isn’t going to mean squat if we as citizens do not show our legislators that we are serious about ethics reform and gift caps. As conscientious voters we need to make sure that we know where our future leaders stand on this issue. Don’t play into the General Assembly leadership’s assumption that you don’t care about ethics reform. In the upcoming elections we have an opportunity to raise our voices and show our officials that we are the ones who put them into office and we are the ones who should be listened to, not lobbyists, not special interests, not large corporations. It’s time for us to prove to our legislators that we expect better and will use our votes if necessary.