Ethics for $100

Georgia Jeopardy - I'll take ethics for a hundredThe latest, for instance, has the Georgia Republican Party wanting to question whether politicians should be ethical, apparently, as they have voted in convention to put a non-binding ethical question on the July 31 Republican Primary ballot.

Meanwhile, it is now the official position of the Georgia Republican Party that lobbyists should be barred from giving unlimited gifts to lawmakers. The party on Saturday approved a resolution urging the General Assembly to adopt a “reasonable” limit on the value of meals, tickets and other gifts from lobbyists.

Even so, they now ask voters in July whether Georgia should restrict lobbyists gifts to a $100 limit. Why the party has to ask the voters this question is debatable. Maybe they merely want to know to what limit they should be ethical. If this one fails to pass, perhaps the GOP could come back and ask is it OK to be ethical with a $1,000 limit?

In other words, how ethical do they want their legislators to be, that is, up to what limit.

We suggest the legislators ought to be 100 percent ethical, with no dollar limit put on it. And not only should this apply to Republicans, but to Democrats, Tea Partyers, or anyone in government, at any level. We feel most Georgians feel that way, that is, that all elected officials should be ethical. And even though legislation might pass requiring ethical actions, who would know otherwise except that individual public official?

Oh, well.

Give the Republicans credit: they have innovated this non-binding technique in Georgia for several years now, asking voters to give their view on a number of questions that the party could face. We doubt it does much good, though they sometimes point to it when trying to get legislation updated.

The Democratic Party of Georgia, meanwhile, sits idly on the sidelines, with little effort to be creative and innovative. It’s mostly the same old Pabulum from the Democrats, who are no longer the Top Dog in Georgia. They need a boost of energy and innovation (big-time) to catch up with the GOP today in Georgia.

Ethics is not the only topic the Republicans will question their loyal stalwarts about in their upcoming primary. They will also seek to test the waters of their supporters on casino gambling. That’s certain to be of interest in Gwinnett, with people dickering to have a casino-type operation at Interstate 85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard. Should GOP voters cast a majority of the votes favoring such an operation in Georgia, it might allow Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston a little wiggle room not to block such a move, and pave the way toward legal gambling here. We hope not.

Other issues that the Republicans will put on the non-binding questionnaire include gun licenses for military personnel, party registration for elections and the abortion question. Luckily, these items are mere questions, and won’t be binding. Yet these questions sometimes can get traction for future deliberations.

Somehow, to us it seems out-of-order to even suggest that we should even be asked on the limits of integrity and ethics. Some day, we hope, these high values should become a standard by which all public officials perform. In fact, we thought they already were.

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Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.