At last week’s Georgia GOP Convention here in Columbus, state House Speaker David Ralston said those calling for lobbyist spending reform are aligned with “media elites and liberal special interest groups,” according to “Peach Pundit” blogger Charlie Harper.
A scheduled press conference Wednesday in Atlanta offered a pretty interesting cross section of this elite liberal coalition.
The host organization was the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause Georgia. Featured speaker was to be notorious leftist Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who urged all candidates qualifying in both parties’ primaries to pledge their support of a bill limiting lobbyist gifts to legislators.
Also scheduled to be on hand for the occasion (no doubt at the secret behest of Nancy Pelosi, or maybe Al Sharpton) were Georgia Conservatives in Action and the Georgia Tea Party Patriots.
Maybe liberals, the “media elite” and other well-worn punching bags are all that opponents of bought-and-paid-for government have left. Georgia is, after all, one of only three states that still place no limits on how much special interests can grease the palms that sign the laws that widen the loopholes.
“This is a Georgia government,” Harper writes, “that is now run by — and accountable to — well-heeled and well-connected insiders … it is quite literally the currency of Georgia government, reciprocated by legislation favoring the insiders.”
McKoon filed legislation in the most recent session of the General Assembly that would have set the aforementioned caps; it was dead on arrival. He plans to pre-file it again for the next session.
Some of the feeble rationalizations for not supporting ethics legislation of this kind typify political doublespeak at its most mind-numbing.
“All too often during the last legislative session,” said Common Cause Georgia Director William Perry, “we heard members of the General Assembly pledge to vote for our ethics bill ‘if it reached the floor’ … now they have no excuse.”
The July 31 Republican primary ballot will include a question asking voters whether they support limits on lobbyist … generosity. It’s non-binding, of course; state law can’t be made in a party primary, and in any event there’s little evidence the powers at the Capitol are inclined to let anybody — certainly not the people they are supposed to represent — dictate what they can and can’t enjoy in the way of political perks.
This is currently a “Republican” issue simply because Republicans now control state government. But Democrats had a century to jump off the special-interest gravy train and chose instead to ride it right out of office. We’ll see who has and who hasn’t been paying attention.