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Governor Perdue Signs Comprehensive Ethics Reform into Law

Thursday, May 5, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue signed today the strongest ethics reform package in Georgia's history. The Governor's Honesty in Government Act, overhauls Georgia's ethical guidelines and strengthens the integrity of state government. In addition to House Bill 48, Governor Perdue also signed House Bill 665 which protects whistleblowers from retaliation for uncovering public corruption.

“The people of Georgia deserve to know that the business of state government will always be conducted to the highest ethical standards,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “With this bill, we draw the lines so that our public servants will know clearly what is expected of them and the people will know their business is being conducted honestly and without undue favor.”

Governor Perdue began his push for comprehensive ethics reform during his campaign for Governor in 2002. On his first day in office, he made ethics a top priority of his administration by signing an Executive Order outlining ethical guidelines for the Executive Branch of state government. During the last three legislative sessions, 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.

Governor Perdue's House Floor Leaders – Representatives Rich Golick, Jay Roberts and Vance Smith – and Ethics Committee Chairman Joe Wilkinson led the effort for the bill's passage in the House. State Senators Renee Unterman and Don Balfour carried the bill in the Senate.

The Honesty in Government Act (HB48) includes the following provisions:

  • Includes increased penalties for violations of the Ethics in Government Act.
  • Individuals who lobby for state contracts and changes in state rules and regulations will be required to register as lobbyists and file lobbyist disclosure reports.
  • The bill includes a revolving door provision that will 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.
  • Lobbyists will not be eligible for executive appointment to any board, commission or authority that regulates the activities of the business that the lobbyist represented for one year after lobbying.
  • Public officers will be prohibited from advocating for the advancement, employment, appointment, or promotion of a family member to a state job.
  • Legislators will be prohibited from seeking or accepting campaign contributions or pledges of contributions during the legislative session.
  • Significantly increases and expands financial disclosure requirements for public officials and lobbyists.
  • Requires lobbyists to disclose individuals or entities who pay the lobbyist more than $10,000 a year.
  • The Ethics Commission will publish overall lobbyist spending by category and will 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.
  • 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 occurred will not be eligible for judicial appointment unless they have requested and received a refund.
  • The bill contains a millionaire's clause – candidates will not be able to repay personal loans over $250,000 after the date of the election.
  • Creates 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.