AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Report gives Georgia a D- in ethics

The Center for Public Integrity Monday released nationwide investigation into the weak laws that guard against political corruption and the news is as bad as it sounds.

Eleven states were given a failing grade and only one state, Alaska, earned as high as a C. Georgia ranked in the middle of the pack at 24th among states, but with a dismal grade of D-.

But state politicians may trumpet the barely passing mark, or at least feel more comfortable ignoring it. When the Center did a similar report in 2012, Georgia ranked dead last, a fact reformers brought up again and again as they pushed for tougher ethics laws.

State leaders blasted the earlier report as "biased" and unfair, but it became grist for the mill of ethics reform. The next year, the Legislature passed the first-ever cap on lobbyist spending, which has made the kind of wine-and-dine lobbying common at the Capitol a less lavish affair.

The new report dings the state on loopholes in that lobbying reform as well as the broad power of Gov. Nathan Deal to appoint his friends and allies to state posts. It also criticizes the state for the near-complete collapse of the state ethics commission under the helm of its last executive secretary and the "stall tactics" state offices use when confronted with open records requests.

To read the full report, go here. For more on the report from on myajc.com, go here.

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Joyner’s column, AJC Watchdog, investigates topics in your community and Georgia.