State Sen. Joshua McKoon has arguably become the face of the ethics reform movement in Georgia politics. The Columbus Republican is quietly emerging as a leader even as he bucks his own party.
McKoon was elected to the state Senate in 2010. He quickly sponsored an ethics bill with fellow freshman senator, Atlanta Democrat Jason Carter.
He drafted another ethics bill this year that the legislature’s Republican leadership shunned.
Since then, public pressure has forced other lawmakers to endorse ethics reform.
Carter says that persistence isn’t the only instance of McKoon’s leadership. He also publicly disagreed with how the Senate Ethics Committee punished fellow Republican Senator Don Balfour of Snellville, over incorrect expense reports.
“Sen. McKoon filed a minority report, which takes a lot of guts, to go against the sitting Rules chair in that context, and say, ‘Look I disagree. I think this should be a real penalty because these are real, real problems’,” he said in an interview.
Balfour chairs the Senate’s Rules committee.
Indeed, McKoon may be building more of a following outside the Senate than in it. So says Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor.
“His initiative last year didn’t find much favor," he said in an interview. "And my guess is that a number of his colleagues wish that he would not push this issue or these kinds of issues.”
The Young Republican National Federation named McKoon its Man of the Year for 2012.
He plans to re-introduce a bill that would place a $100 cap on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.