It’s amazing what happens when someone like Sen. Josh McKoon decides to run for statewide office.
McKoon once had a well-earned reputation as a fierce ethics watchdog. But now he’s turned into a lap dog when it comes to Georgia’s lax pay-to-play laws that allow companies that do business with the state to contribute to the politicians who control their budget.
On Sunday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an in-depth investigative report detailing the flow of cash from companies that do business with the state to Gov. Deal and key legislators.
Reporters James Salzer and and Shannon McCaffrey dug through five years of ethics filings, payment data and emails and found that Gov. Deal’s campaign and related political action committees have raked in more than $1.8 million from 90 of the state’s largest vendors, their executives or family members.
He defended the politicians.
The one-time ethics champion balked at calling for an end to Georgia’s current vendor-funded ATM for elected officials. Instead, he said more disclosure could be “helpful” but cautioned:
“But you run into the issue of how do we create a bright line that makes sense and doesn’t create a gotcha situation while accomplishing the public policy goal of trying to separate out these relationships.”
The “bright line” that needs to be created is stunningly clear … clear to everyone, apparently, except Sen. McKoon and the other politicians who are in bed with the lobbyists who fund their campaigns and then write our laws.
While “hitting up” vendors for campaign contributions is commonplace in Georgia politics, it should be illegal, just as it is at the federal level and in other states.
The fact that it’s NOT illegal in Georgia is just one of the reasons the Center for Public Integrity ranks Georgia dead last on its Corruption Risk Report Card.
Surely Sen. McKoon knows that elected officials who are supposed to watch out for taxpayers shouldn’t take money from companies that do business with the state.