This summer Common Cause Georgia has a brand new crop of interns. Their experience with politics ranges from never having voted to having their TV permanently set to C-SPAN. Each of our interns will be blogging throughout the summer about their experiences with CCGA and how the realities of state and local politics differ from what the learned from civics class and School House Rock.
CCGA intern Tommy didn’t know much about politics when he started just a few weeks ago, but his high school government classes never prepared him for the real role that lobbyists play in legislating. He wonders how much others know about the real relationship between lobbyists and lawmaking, something he thinks Georgians need to know more about.
This is my second week as an intern for Common Cause Georgia, and I’ve begun to gain a substantial foothold in Georgia’s political world. When I first started working I barely knew any of the political things that were going on here. I didn’t know Common Cause existed before I began working for them or even that our state government had serious ethical issues. That’s all begun to change very quickly though. For instance, my first day I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany our executive director William Perry to the capitol to attempt to obtain potential legislators’ signatures on our lobbyist gift limit pledge. The first thing I learned was that Georgia was one of only three states that didn’t limit the amount of money lobbyists can give to legislators in order to “grease their palms.” This led me to wonder how many of my fellow peers knew information like this.
Sadly, I doubt any of them knew because things like that are not taught in normal government classes. I remember in my government class that the only thing they taught us about our government is that the government make laws and that we are supposed to follow them and also vote for our president every four years. I had prior knowledge of what lobbyists were, but I never knew that they were so involved in lawmaking. Learning about their involvement sparked my interest in how much influence lobbyists had on legislators. As my internship with Common Cause continues one of my projects comparing other states’ lobbyist gift limits with Georgia’s. Most states have placed restrictions on lobbyist gifts or banned them all together, but Georgia, Indiana, and South Dakota do not have gift limits at all. Now that I know this I feel as though it is up to me to share this information with my peers because I know that most of them if not all them don’t know this at all. As I progress as an intern I hope to gain a deeper sense of the infrastructure of our government and can help Common Cause in its mission of keeping our government honest while educating my peers on the information they missed out on in high school.
Written by: CCGA Intern, Tommy Harvey