Thursday, June 3, 2010

Will Ethic Troubles, along with Voter Anger Spell Trouble for Georgia Republicans at the Polls in November?


The Ethics troubles of some Georgia Republicans will no doubt come back to haunt them as well as others, depending how big of an issue the democrats will make of it.

Beginning with Former Speaker Glen Richardson (R-Hiram) who was forced to resigned after allegations made by his now ex-wife to a Atlanta T.V. Station of a alleged affair he had with a lobbyist. Before the allegations were made public, he attempted to commit suicide by downing a bottle of sleeping pills.

Had his ex-wife not come out with those allegations of a affair, Richardson would probably be speaker today.

Remember back in 2007 when former Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn claimed Richardson engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist for utility Atlanta Gas Light Co. while backing a bill that would have helped the company fund a $300 million pipeline.

Then Senate Pro-Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) who chaired the joint legislative ethics committee that weighed the complaint did not pursue the investigation due according to Johnson & others on the committee without "specific" information or facts and evidence admissible in court.

The stench of that scandal affected other GOP members of the legislature like former speaker Pro-Tem Mark Burk halter, Majority Leader Jerry Keen, both who many accused of covering up for the former speaker. Both men decided to not seek re-election in 2010.

Then there's John Oxendine who will appear in front of a June 24 Ethics Commission Hearing over two Georgia-based insurance companies that had used ten Alabama political action committees to funnel $120,000 – almost ten times the legal limit to his campaign.



The businessman, Delos “Dee” Yancey III, CEO of State Mutual Insurance Co. and its subsidiary, Admiral Life Insurance Co. of America, headed the state-mandated Georgia Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association funneled $120,000 to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s campaign for governor.

The AJC reported last year that records showed Yancey’s insurance companies made payments of $14,000 to each of 10 Alabama PACs in 2008. The PACs were all set up by a director of State Mutual and Admiral Life. The PACs then each made $12,000 donations to Oxendine’s campaign. Georgia law prohibits contributions from companies to officials who regulate them. It also limits the amount that one individual or business can contribute to a candidate in an election cycle. The current limit is $12,200 in a normal election. The two men had had a long standing relationship which included a trip to Mexico.

And there's Nathan Deal who the (OCE)Office of Congressional Ethics says violated ethics rules. Its concerns Deal's ownership of a lucrative automobile salvage business, Gainesville Storage & Disposal (GSD). In 2008, Georgia considered junking the existing inspection program and replacing the state inspectors, who had worked at GSD, with private-sector employees; in addition, new inspection stations would be allowed to compete with existing ones, such as GSD. Mr. Deal and his congressional chief of staff held three meetings with state officials in 2008 and 2009 to discuss the program -- including making requests to keep a permanent state inspector at the company -- and to criticize the proposed changes. Mr. Deal told OCE interviewers that he attended the meetings in his capacity as a "public servant."


The OCE found numerous potential ethics violations.

It said, the involvement of Mr. Deal's chief of staff and the staffer's use of House e-mail to talk about the meetings may have violated the prohibition on using House resources for private business. In addition, Deal reported $75,000 he received from GSD in 2008 as wages on his tax forms but listed that amount, which exceeded House rules on what lawmakers can accept as outside earnings, as unearned income on his congressional financial disclosure form.


The report also suggested Deal may have improperly used his office to intervene with state Department of Revenue on behalf of his business. Georgia’s revenue commissioner was considering changes to the program that would have introduced more competition. One of the Georgia politicos whose name has been connected to Deal's shenanigans: Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.


According to the AJC back in late March, the OCE requested an interview with the Georgia Lieutenant Governor and a former member of his staff. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office would not cooperate with the OCE’s requests for interviews but did produce some information concerning the Lieutenant Governor’s presence at meetings discussed above concerning vehicle inspections. Thus, the OCE recommends that the Committee on Standards of Official subpoena the Georgia Lieutenant Governor. So we don't know what really went on between the Revenue Commissioner, Cagle, & Deal

During the legislative session the State Legislature passed a "SHAM" Ethics Bill that will require lobbyists to more frequently report how much they’re spending on lawmakers & creates a new process for people to file a complaint against officials abusing their power & it also bans electronic communications between lobbyists and lawmakers while bills are being debated in committee and on the floor, and makes lobbyists pay a $300 registration fee.




BUT!!!



Common Cause Georgia, the nonpartisan group promoting open and honest government, blasted ethics legislation, saying the new bill would not require members of state boards and authorities to file financial disclosure report or exempt lobbyists from reporting money they spend on travel, meals, and hotels for legislators attending meetings. Democrats had offered two other amendments: a one-year ban on state administrators appointed by the governor from becoming lobbyists, and the $50 ceiling on gifts (other than food or drink) from lobbyists. Both were denied by the GOP.

Despite an Ethics Bill getting passed, like I said, the version that was passed was in my opinion was a watered down-sham of a bill that was passed during the session.

Right now Oxendine is leading for the GOP Nomination, followed by Deal & Handel, who you can say are basically tied for second place. Some have said that Eric Johnson may surprised people & make it to the runoff. If you ask me, Deal & Oxendine are flawed candidates that will be easy pickens for democrats in november due to the amount of baggage each brings to the table & despite Eric Johnson not having any ethics troubles, he maybe affected by his decision to turn a blind eye on the Richardson complain back in 2007.

The Ethics Problem will be a problem for the GOP come the General Election, but it will depend how much of a issue the democrats will make out of it. If they play their cards right, they (democrats) will reap the benefits at the polls

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