Suawannee Democrat The Jasper News Mayo Free Press by CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary
March 23, 2019
Anyone who does not think Georgia politicians are beholden to special interests is either naive or just not paying attention.
Unfortunately, it also appears that money votes in the House and Senate chambers.
Reporter James Salzer with the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in a March 13 AJC article, “In all, statewide elected officials, lawmakers, their caucus PACs and the major state parties collected about $1.5 million in the two weeks before the start of the session, some taking in checks less than 24 hours before the General Assembly was gaveled in for a new session.”
Salzer reported, “The Thursday before the 2019 General Assembly session opened in January, the House Republican leaders’ political action committee held a fundraiser at the stately Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta, taking in about $168,000 from big-money businesses and lobbyists hoping to persuade lawmakers to give them tax breaks or help them smite their competitors or reduce government oversight.”
Things like this are what makes some provisions in Senate Bill 213 so disturbing.
The fact that making campaign contributions more opaque was even seriously considered, much less overwhelmingly supported, by the Senate is beyond disturbing.
The Georgia First Amendment Foundation explained it well: “Right now elected officials must disclose campaign contributions in non-election years on Jan. 31, just as the General Assembly session is getting underway. Senate Bill 213 would eliminate that disclosure date, which would harm transparency.”
Georgia First Amendment Foundation President Richard T. Griffiths added that the measure would “take away the public’s ability to know – early in the legislative session – who contributes to our representatives and senators.”
The First Amendment Foundation has rightly denounced the erosion of transparency.
The public has every right and reason to know where lawmakers are getting their money and how that might influence the way they vote.