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Friday, January 13, 2012 - 5:50am

Tea Party Pushes Ethics Reform

Georgia Tea Party groups held a rally at the state Capitol Thursday to push for ethics reform. They’ve helped to draft a bill that would limit lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.

The Tea Party groups want Georgia to become a model for government ethics.

And they want to start with a $100 limit on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.

Debbie Dooley is with the Tea Party Patriots. When told that some legislators oppose the move, she said she knew why.

“Legislators who say that want to continue to accept extravagant gifts from lobbyists. And that’s wrong,” she said.

At the rally in the rotunda of the Capitol, they said lobbyists’ deep pockets give them an advantage over the average citizen. And they say that’s wrong.

But some opposing the ban say current law works because they have to disclose the value of gifts they receive.

House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, says Georgians can determine on their own if gifts sway a lawmaker or not.

“I thought the Tea Party trusted people to make decisions," he said. "Apparently some of their spokespeople don’t. I trust Georgians to take that kind of information and act appropriately on it.”

Ralston said the people who hold sway over him live in Gilmer, Fannin and the other counties he represents.

The Tea Party groups also want to change the name of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission back to its original title: the State Ethics Commission.

They say it’s more transparent.

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