Our gift cap pledge is making great strides in a positive direction! Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten on board. Candidates have offered up reasons why they won’t sign the pledge, ranging from the fairly sensible to the pretty spurious. One example of this is a recent blog titled “The Gift Cap As Magic Wand” by current Representative Buzz Brockway, who claims, “we don’t need more ethics laws, we need to enforce the ones we have,” standing behind this as his reason for not signing the ethics reform gift cap pledge. And although Representative Brockway is right that there are many laws already in effect governing the conduct of public officials and lobbyist, they clearly haven’t been very effective so far.
The proposed lobbyist gift cap will be the first and only law to address the limits of what a lobbyist can gift a legislator. It is apparent that this law needs to be passed in order to end lobbyist unlimited spending—one only needs to look at it to see this. Now, there is nowhere in the gift cap pledge that promises a complete ethics transformation as a result of the gift cap. But, the pledge does work towards a more ethical way to handle lobbyist to legislator gift distribution. Although there are numerous pages of laws governing lobbyist, they have not and will not cut it. We need something else, something more, to truly define lobbyist, legislator relations. It seems as though Representative Brockway’s idea of what the gift cap pledge entails is a tad bit misconstrued. Brockway does not only feel that the lobbyist gift cap is unnecessary, but also that “when people realize how a gift cap doesn’t change a thing they will be angry.” As we pointed out in an earlier blog post, lobbyist caps don’t just do nothing, or even lead to more corruption. After all, “saying that lobbyist caps lead to increased corruption should mean that Georgia is one of the least corrupt states, and yet we aren’t.” The gift cap is in no way meant to hinder anyone, nor cause corruption. It is to restore order that this state desperately needs.
Although the gift cap pledge will fix a major issue with unlimited lobbyist gifts, Brockway correctly points out that Georgia possesses other ethical issues. The fact that Georgia has “35 pages of law governing conduct of public officials and lobbyists” yet we still have many issues proves that a changes need to be made. The gift cap pledge is a step in the right direction to simplifying legislator, lobbyist relationships and going back to the core conduct that is necessary to run a more ethical Georgia. It’s not the only thing that needs to change, certainly, but it is the right change to make. See if candidates in your district signed the pledge and if they haven’t be sure to ask them why.
Written by: CCGA Social Media Intern Jaime Battle