Thursday, January 14, 2010

Press Release from Rep. Rob Teilhet Files Bill to Overhaul Conflict of Interest Laws

SMYRNA, GA – Today State Representative and Attorney General Candidate Rob Teilhet filed legislation overhauling Georgia’s ethics and conflict of interest laws. Teilhet’s legislation would bring to a screeching halt the General Assembly’s practice of policing themselves on the issue of conflict of interest. The bill also strips the Governor and the General Assembly of the political power to appoint the State Ethics Commission.

The Georgia General Assembly has proven itself to be unable to police its own leadership on ethics,” said Representative Rob Teilhet. “Georgians would never allow accused criminals to act as their own judge and jury. My bill will no longer allow partisan politicians to control their own ethics enforcement.”

Teilhet’s legislation proposes two major changes to current law. First, the bill gives the State Ethics Commission the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute conflict of interest cases against members of the Georgia General Assembly upon receiving a written complaint. Currently such complaints are enforced by the General Assembly through a Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. In 2007 the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint detailing the facts that led to House Speaker Richardson’s resignation last month. The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, made up of Richardson’s peers, dismissed the complaint immediately, without any investigation.

Second, Teilhet’s legislation tasks the Georgia Supreme Court with appointing the members of the State Ethics Commission. Currently, members are appointed by the Governor, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“This year we must address the underlying culture of corruption that has allowed self-dealing and conflicts of interest to run rampant at our Capitol. It’s imperative that we pass meaningful ethics reform this session, and get our public officials back to the business of serving constituents, rather than themselves,” said Teilhet.

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