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Statement of Governor Perdue Regarding Ethics Reform

Tuesday, September 30, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue made the following remarks regarding ethics reform during a press conference today at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia.

Prepared Remarks of Governor Sonny Perdue
Ethics Reform
Mercer Law School
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
(Note: Governor Perdue sometimes deviates from prepared remarks.)

This time a year ago, I was still a candidate for the office I now hold.

Throughout my campaign last year, I told the citizens of Georgia that if they'd give me the opportunity to lead our state I'd make them proud.

I promised to work every day to restore public trust in government and to make state government more responsive to the public voice.

And I have worked from day one to do just that.

One of my first acts as Governor was to issue a strong executive order setting forth high standards of ethical conduct for my administration, with strict rules on conflicts of interest, gifts, and lobbying.

Why is restoring that public trust so important? Because trust is the cornerstone of our system of representative government.

The people elect their Governor, their legislators, and other officials and entrust us with the power and responsibility of governing.

Of listening to their concerns ... responding to their needs ... and ensuring that the basic services of government are provided.

They entrust us with the power to spend public funds ... their tax dollars.

And the power to make the laws that we must all live and work under.

Folks, that's a lot of responsibility for 8 million people to entrust to 56 Senators, 180 Representatives, and a dozen or so constitutional officers.

The people don't bestow that responsibility lightly.

They need to have confidence that those whom they elect to act in their behalf are serving the public interest, not any private agenda.

The people demand and deserve "disclosure and exposure" of any possible conflict of interest or outside influence on the processes of government decision-making.

They want public business conducted in the full light of day, not in the shadows where the temptation of corruption may lurk.

In short, Georgians want their representatives to conduct state business to the highest ethical standards.

And that is why I asked the General Assembly, in the 2003 session, to pass far-reaching ethics legislation designed to raise our standards and meet the people's expectations.

The Senate did pass my ethics package. But in the waning hours of the session, the bill failed on the House floor.

I was disappointed by that outcome.

More importantly, the people of Georgia were disappointed.

But in just a few months, the General Assembly will convene for a new session ... and a new opportunity to restore those bonds of trust with the people of Georgia.

When the Legislature convenes in January, I will again ask them to pass my ethics reform package.

It will include those important provisions I submitted in last year's bill to increase financial disclosure by candidates and clamp down on conflicts of interest, gifts and nepotism. This includes banning candidate-to-candidate transfers of campaign funds.

We will also better regulate professional lobbying through enhanced lobbyist registration and disclosure requirements and closing the revolving door with a one-year cooling off period before public officers can lobby.

We will also streamline the cumbersome process for filing disclosure reports and finance reports to make them more accessible to the public.

All of these proposals come down to that simple, yet powerful, goal of giving our citizens the knowledge and confidence that Georgia's state government is serving the people of Georgia first ... the people of Georgia second ... the people of Georgia and no other!

Next year, the General Assembly will have one more opportunity to do the right thing for Georgia by passing comprehensive ethics reform.

I look forward to working with our legislators to pass this bill and restore that public trust.