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Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 12:00pm

Ethics Group Launches Town Hall Meetings

Updated: 2 years ago.
A coalition pushing for ethics reform begins holding town hall meetings around Georgia on Tuesday. The groups, whose members are pictured above at a press conference earlier this year at the state Capitol, are starting in Macon to promote their campaign to pass a $100 cap on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.

A coalition pushing for ethics reform begins holding town hall meetings around Georgia on Tuesday. The groups are starting in Macon to promote their campaign to pass a $100 cap on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.

The Georgia Ethics Alliance will provide details about a bill they will push in January when the state legislature meets.

If passed, it would halt the practice of lobbyists giving unlimited gifts to state legislators.

The alliance features Common Cause Georgia and the Tea Party. And it’s broadened now to include Georgia Watch, a consumer watchdog group, and The League of Women Voters of Georgia.

Julianne Thompson is with Georgia Tea Party Patriots, which is part of the coalition. She says the campaign is gathering more steam because it’s not about politics.

“We have joined with other groups to do what is right because there are some issues that are not about Right versus Left; they’re about right versus wrong and that’s what ethics is about,” she said.

Thompson says a vote over the summer showed Georgians support their campaign.

“All across Georgia the ballot question in July passed with very high margins," she said. "It was just overwhelming -- over 80 percent in all areas of Georgia -- that people did want to see an end to unlimited gifts from lobbyists to legislators.”

Elena Parent heads Georgia Watch. She says not only does support for the ban span Georgia, it also crosses party lines.

"The vote was in the mid-80th percentile for Republican primary voters and in the high 70th percentile for Democratic primary voters," said Parent.

The bill would likely limit, though not end, the widespread practice of lobbyists giving lawmakers game tickets.

The coalition heads to Augusta and they will wrap up a nine-city tour with a meeting in Atlanta on Dec. 12. Here's a complete list of the meetings planned:

Macon - 11/13, 7-8pm, City Hall Chamber, 700 Poplar Street

Augusta - 11/15, 7-8pm, Augusta-Richmond Library, 823 Telfair Street

Columbus - 11/27, 7-8pm, location to be determined

Albany - 11/28, 7-8pm, location to be determined

Brunswick - 12/4, 7-8pm, Old City Hall, 1229 Newcastle St

Savannah - 12/5, 7-8pm, location to be determined

Athens - 12/10, 7-8pm, location to be determined

Dalton - 12/11, 7-8pm, City Hall, 114 North Pentz St

Atlanta - 12/12, 7-8pm, location to be determined

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