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Monday, August 22, 2011 - 10:14am

New FBI Unit To Help Ethics Probes

The commissions that oversee the ethics of elected state legislators and judges are getting help with future investigations. That will come from a new unit inside Georgia’s office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI currently has a single unit that handles all manner of corruption cases--from regular law enforcement personnel to government officials. But this new squad will specifically focus on ethics cases of elected judges and legislators.

The top official with Georgia’s FBI office says the move comes after months of review on how to better attack the number of corruption cases.

Stacey Kalberman with the state’s ethics commission says it’s welcome help, given deep cuts to the agency’s budget.

“...including a reduction in our staff of over half. So any help, particularly from the expertise of the FBI in the investigation of our campaign finance cases would certainly be a great benefit to us.”

Kalberman is set to leave the agency after her salary was cut.

William Perry with ethics watchdog Common Cause Georgia says the FBI's help can only help a state system stressed by funding cuts.

“Specifically to add that it’s for state elected officials and judges I think is a really big deal. It underscores the fact that we need these resources, and that they’ve been cut at the state level.”

Budget cuts have also affected the state’s Judicial Qualification Commission. But lawmakers did restore some funding this year.