Ethics have been a top issue on the General Assembly's agenda recently. This is interesting considering the Governor's own ethical background. There are quite a few Georgia politicians with challenged ethical backgrounds.
Governor Deal was being investigated for ethics violations when he abruptly resigned from Congress to run for Governor, thus saving him from the investigation. This is a well known way to avoid the consequences of an ethics investigation. Resign and and the investigation ends.
In a 138 page report the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) did release the results of their investigation as reported by the Washington Post . "Mr. Deal's chief of staff and the staffer's use of House e-mail to talk about the meetings may have violated the prohibition on using House resources for private business. In addition, Mr. Deal reported $75,000 he received from GSD (Gainesvill Storage & Disposal) in 2008 as wages on his tax forms but listed that amount, which exceeded House rules on what lawmakers can accept as outside earnings, as unearned income on his congressional financial disclosure form." So, while Congress no longer had the authority to discipline him, the OCE could release the results of the investigation. AsGovernor the ethical questions about Deal have not ended. So far the Governor has only admitted to minor infractions and paid $3350 in "administrative fees" to settle the issues.
The General Assembly is taking up new ethics legislation. Currently, a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to legislators is the centerpiece of the discussion. A complete ban is not out of the question. Governor Deal also suggested that this should extend to local elected officials.
Wining and dining elected officials is bad, but there are other things that are worse.There should also be concern for the appointment of friends to government jobs. The Wiheit family, Ken Cronan and James Walters are a few of these people who are contributors and friends who have gotten assignments from Deal. Most recently, Chip Rogers position at GPTV has been a shocking and contentious one. Deal has claimed he did arrange this and now he claims he did not arrange it. This is the kind of thing that should be an ethical concern for all. This is an issue that has yet to be addressed. We will see what actually gets signed into law.