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Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 12:24pm

Lawmakers Use Campaign Finance Bill to Close Lobbyist Loophole

State lawmakers Thursday gave their final approval to a bill aimed at closing a loophole in the state's ethics law.

The fix is attached to a bill that watchdog groups say is ethically challenged.

The bill makes lobbyists report how much they spend on state employees and politicians' family members.

It closes a legal loophole the state ethics commission noticed last week.

Consumer and ethics watchdog groups are applauding the vote, but not the overall legislation.

The loophole fix is attached to a bill that would allow utility company employees to contribute to political campaigns.

Jim Kulstad with Common Cause says that’s a problem, because state utilities are regulated monopolies and lawmakers influence the process.

"The best example is SB 31 two years ago basically we’re paying up front for a nuclear plant and that was done by the legislature," Kulstad says.

Senate bill 31 lets Georgia Power charge its customers in advance for the construction costs of the nuclear expansion of Plant Vogtle.

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