Ethics in Government
One of Governor Perdue's first actions as Governor was issuing an Executive Order that set forth stringent ethical guidelines for the Governor's staff and the entire executive branch. A few days later, the Governor signed another Executive Order creating the Office of Inspector General to investigate fraud, corruption and waste in government. He also signed an Executive Order placing registration and disclosure requirements on vendor lobbyists.
Governor Perdue began his push for comprehensive ethics reform during his campaign for Governor in 2002. Governor Perdue introduced the Honesty in Government Act in the General Assembly. After two years of the bill being blocked in the House by the former Democrat majority, it passed this year with only one dissenting vote. These reforms will:
Increase penalties for violations of the Ethics in Government Act.
Require individuals who lobby for state contracts and changes in state rules and regulations to register as lobbyists and file lobbyist disclosure reports.
Prohibit legislators, state elected officials, constitutional officers, agency heads and the executive directors of boards, commissions and authorities from lobbying for one year after leaving office.
Prevent lobbyists from receiving an executive appointment to any board, commission or authority that regulates the activities of the business that the lobbyist represented for one year after lobbying.
Prohibit public officers from advocating for the advancement, employment, appointment, or promotion of a family member to a state job.
Prohibit legislators from seeking or accepting campaign contributions or pledges of contributions during the legislative session.
Significantly increase and expand financial disclosure requirements for public officials and lobbyists.
Require lobbyists to disclose individuals or entities who pay the lobbyist more than $10,000 a year.
Require that the Ethics Commission publish overall lobbyist spending by category and post a list on its website including the name of each filer who has failed to file a required campaign contribution disclosure report, financial disclosure report or lobbyist disclosure report.
Prevent individuals who have made campaign contributions to the Governor in the 30 day period prior to the vacancy of a judicial position or after the vacancy from being eligible for judicial appointment unless they have requested and received a refund.
Prevent candidates from repaying personal loans over $250,000 after the date of the election.
Create a joint legislative ethics committee that will assist the general assembly in establishing rules and regulations relating to conflicts between the private interests of the member of the legislative branch and the duties of the member. Ordinary citizens will be able to file complaints alleging prohibited conflicts of interest with this committee and the committee will investigate and recommend appropriate punishment of legislators and legislative staff.
In short, Governor Perdue's entire ethics reform package is a movement toward a culture change -- a change from "gotcha politics" to prosecution of substantive ethics violations and a change from trying to avoid the law to trying to do what's in the state's best interests.