Democrats in the state Senate say lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers should be capped at $100 a year. They also support finding a permanent source for funds for an independent ethics commission that’s not appointed by the Governor.
Georgia lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Monday, and the Senate wasted no time in passing a gift cap as part of the chamber’s rules. It will bar lobbyists from spending more than $100 on any one Senator.
State lawmakers will again try to pass an ethics reform bill in the upcoming legislative session. This time, with pressure from Tea Party groups and others, there’s a good chance a gift-cap will become law.
Georgia voters could elect to give the state's official ethics watchdog dedicated funding under a proposal from a state senator. Currently, the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission is funded by a fluctuating budget approved by state lawmakers.
A coalition pushing for ethics reform in Georgia says 50 of the 130 state legislators elected Tuesday support a $100 cap on lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers. The groups say that’s the strongest level of support since they started their campaign.
Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has repaid $8,500 to his campaign account amid questions over how he paid for publications sent to residents in his district. His attorney said Rogers broke no laws but was making the reimbursement to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Joshua McKoon, a Columbus Republican, said Monday that the $5,000 fine that Don Balfour negotiated with the Ethics Committee last week is insufficient. McKoon, the lone member to vote against the settlement, filed a minority report with the Senate.