The Politics of Ethics Reform

For years the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform has been emphasizing how ethics reform isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue, but a right or wrong issue. Well it seems like the legislators under the Gold Dome don’t quite agree. Now that it’s clear that the public is overwhelmingly behind ethics reform, particularly lobbyists’ gift caps, it seems like everyone wants to throw their hat into the ethics reform ring.

It’s turning into a free for all, that’s not only pitted Republican’s against Democrats, but the House against the Senate. Everyone wants to take the credit for crafting the “best” ethics reform bill, and everyone is trying their hand at it. Within the first two days of the session there were already several ethics bills in the Senate, and the House is likely to follow along with their own legislation shortly. For evidence of this look no further than when the Senate included a $100 gift cap in their rules. Instead of focusing on the fact that the Senate was moving in the right direction, everyone focused on the negatives. The House Speaker called it a “gimick”, and the Democratic Senators criticized it for being too lax.

Another problem with the competition is that now we’ve got all these reform bills that are working at cross purposes. Instead of working together like the Alliance has been doing, our Legislators are trying to one-up each other and show that their chamber/party is more ethical than the other. Hence why there’s now a Senate Democratic lobbyist gift cap bill,a Senate Republican gift cap bill, and there will be the Alliance gift cap bill at some point in the future. It’s great that everyone is so excited about ethics reform, but all this bickering isn’t going to accomplish anything. Choices are great, but not when they lead to paralysis. With each new bill that gets dropped, the public and legislator become further divided on the issue and the likelihood that a consensus can be formed and a a bill actually get passed are less and less likely. This all inevitability forces us to turn our attention away from the main priority: getting Georgia’s ethical standards up to snuff with the rest of the country.

Legislators need to stop trying to increase their approval ratings by jumping on the ethics bandwagon, and stop using every solution offered as an opportunity to bash their “opponents”. It’s time they start acting like the leaders who were elected in November.  If there is any hope for the Georgia legislature to gain back the trust of the people, they are going to have to suck it up, work together, and enact laws that make them worthy of the people who put them under the Gold Dome. We need ethics reform and it can’t be about looking good, it must be about being good.

About Rachel Bradley

Communications Coordinator at CCGA
This entry was posted in Georgia Legislation, Government Ethics, Lobbying and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Politics of Ethics Reform

  1. Senator McKoon led the push on ethics legislation all right. He also ran his campain on the issue of ethics reform. The young senator should put into practice what he preaches, and pushes for in the Georgia Senate. A Columbus based online newspaper reports that Senator McKoon working with another local attorney threaten a Muscogee County School Board member that he will see to it that state funding is withheld from the school district if the school board member does not vote the way McKoon and his aid want them to vote on replacing a local law firm serving the school board for years with an in-hose legal counsel of McKoon’s choice. That in-house counsel slot is rumored to be filled by none other than McKoon himself. McKoon’s aid is reported to be none other than Lt. Governor Cagle’s appointee to the T-SPLOST Citizen Review Panel from Muscogee County. Attorney Frank Myers III is known to African American leaders in Columbus for his frequent use of the N-word to describe African Americans and in the telling of racial jokes. The former chair of the Muscogee County School Board oushing to replace the current the law firm advising the schoold board is the wife of an editor for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. They both are reported to be good friends of Frank Myers, which would explain why the daily newspaper has not reported any details of the story. Myers also has connections to the local TV news media through a relative.

    It appears Senator McKoon has helped wrangle his attorney pal an appointment from Cagle and his pal is going about threatening school board members to get Senator McKoon hired to a high paying job by the school board as in-house legal counsel.

    No major news media is doing any investigative reporting to determine if these serious allegations reported by this online newspaprer are true or false. It all seems to be very hush hush in Columbus because of the players involved, as one would expect in a small town. Nonetheless, why isn’t the ethics committee looking into the involvement of Senator Josh McKoon with published allegations of intimidation and coerion, and into the connection of the appointment of Frank Myers III by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to the Citzen Review Panel overseeing the spending of T-SPLOST dollars?

    All parties concerned deserve to be cleared if the allegations are not true, just as much as they deserve to be exposed to the public if these very serious allegations are in the least true.

    If you can believe the published articles, Senator McKoon and his aid Frank Myers hardly seem paragons of ethical behavior, or the type people you would want to serve as stewards of our taxpayer dollars in any capacity.

    Georgia taxpayers deserve the know the whole truth regarding this matter. News organizations should lock onto this one like a bulldog to get to the bottom of it all.

    The story:

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