One of the most frequent topics that comes up in political conversation these days is ethics. On July 31st, Georgians overwhelmingly voted that there needs to be a cap on the amount of gifts our elected officials are allowed to accept. However, there are many of us who believe that even a $100 per day cap is still too much - that perhaps $0 is a better cap. After all, looking at the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website, one can see that while the $150 rounds of golf and several hundred dollar dinners for the official and their spouse may be eliminated, there are many more of the smaller lunches, dinners, and various other goodies that would still be allowed. Would you be surprised to hear that some Public Service Commissioners walk out of their office or a hearing at lunch time and say "I'm hungry, where's a lobbyist"?
However, there is one completely legal process by which we can eliminate all gifts that doesn't require further legislation - the voting booth. Every Georgia voter has a voice this November 6th to help decide who we are going to put into the various offices around the state. If we decide that ethics do indeed matter, then we should cast our vote for the candidate that best reflects those values - without regard for the party letter beside that candidate's name. The choice is yours - do you vote for someone who has received $14,000 in gifts from lobbyists in just their last term and who accepted $10,000 in campaign contributions just two days before voting on the case those very contributors were presenting? Or is it time to oust some of these 18 year incumbents in favor of a fresh face in their seat?
You be the judge: http://gareport.com/blog/2012/07/18/its-legal-but-is-it-right/
There is a reason that politicians have gone from what was once a respected position to a position that is now the target of a number of jokes. People have come to expect that politicians are dirty and are actually surprised when they come across one that is not. One by one and seat by seat voters have the ability to replace those elected officials that aren't doing what we elected them to do and are taking advantage of the position that we put them in. I urge everyone to thoroughly research every race you cast a ballot for. Let our elected officials know that you too believe: Ethics Matter.
Patch Local Voices is open to everyone. If you're interested, email Editor Michael Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org.