Fact Sheet: Governor Perdue's Leadership in Sweeping Ethics Reform
|Tuesday, April 1, 2003||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
Governor Perdue's Leadership in Sweeping Ethics Reform
Governor Perdue began the 2003 Session with an aggressive and comprehensive package of ethics reform measures. The far-reaching reform package:
- Gives the Ethics Commission jurisdiction over conflict of interest violations and places all of the filing responsibility with the Ethics Commission;
- Creates additional conflict of interest provisions that should be respected by public officials holding positions of public trust;
- Provides stiffer penalties and sanctions for substantive violations of the ethics laws.
Governor Perdue's entire ethics reform package is a movement toward a culture change: a change from "gotcha" to prosecution of only substantive ethics violations; a change from trying to avoid the law to trying to do what's in the state's best interests.
The 2003 Session began with Governor Perdue's signing of an Executive Order setting 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. Also, early in the 2003 Session, Governor Perdue signed an Executive Order creating a Panel to study the creation of statewide Grand Juries. The Panel is charged with making recommendations to the Governor for legislation in 2004.
The four bills in Governor Perdue's legislative package (SB 31, SB 108, SB 109 and SB 168) have passed the Senate. The bills are pending in House Rules and Judiciary Committees. The 13 highlights of Governor Perdue's bills include:
Vendor Lobbyist Registration. Individuals lobbying for contracts with the state will be required to register as lobbyists and file disclosure reports.
Revolving Door. Public officers will be prohibited from lobbying for one year after they leave office.
Public Employee Whistleblower Statute. State and local employees will be protected against retaliation for reporting a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule or regulation.
Nepotism. Elected or appointed State officials will be prohibited from advocating for or causing the advancement, appointment, or employment of a family member.
Candidate-to-Candidate Transfer. Candidates will be prohibited from transferring campaign contributions to another candidate or political action committee.
Contributions to the Governor by Potential Judicial Nominees.
A person may not be considered as a judicial appointment if that person made a contribution to the Governor within 30 days of the vacancy on the bench.
Influencing the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Department of Corrections. Legislators and state elected or appointed officials will be prohibited from appearing before or communicating with these agencies seeking a decision on behalf of a person.
Solicitation of Funds During the Legislative Session. Members of the General Assembly and public officers elected statewide will be prohibited from soliciting campaign funds or pledges for campaign contributions during the legislative session.
Honoraria and Gifts. Public officials will be prohibited from receiving honoraria and will be prohibited from accepting any gift valued at more than $25.
Financial Disclosure. Loopholes in the current financial disclosure requirements will be closed and other provisions will be strengthened.
Conflicts of Interest. The Ethics Commission will have jurisdiction over all conflict of interest issues and stiffer sanctions will be available for violations. Governor Perdue is recommending a 50% increase in funding to support this Commission.
Filing Reports. All campaign disclosure reports and finance reports that are currently filed with the Secretary of State's Office will be filed with the Ethics Commission; funding and the computer system currently in the Secretary of State's budget will be transferred to the Ethics Commission. Having all filings in one location will streamline the process and make it more efficient.
Technical Changes in Ethics in Government Act. The source of many formal complaints before the State Ethics Commission is the lack of clarity in many of the provisions in the Ethics in Government Act. Changes are proposed for clarifying terms in the Ethics in Government Act and providing a better opportunity for compliance with the Act.
The Governor is hopeful that the House of Representatives will join him in restoring faith in government by passing much needed comprehensive ethics reform legislation.