In this age of instantly and widely available information, voters should have greater access to knowledge about who is paying for what in politics. Unfortunately, Georgia politics and government are moving in exactly the opposite direction.
The latest example of this trend toward less transparency in Georgia politics is the refusal of Gov. Deal’s supporters to disclose the donors who paid for his $1.4 million inaugural party last year.
In the past, governors have disclosed the names of the big dollar donors who funded their inaugural galas, even though, by law, they don’t have to. But with a firm grasp on the levers of power, members of Georgia’s conservative supermajority feel no obligation to be forthcoming with voters and, instead, pass legislation specifically designed to shield themselves from public scrutiny.
“Senators this year tried to bar the public and press from attending disciplinary hearings for judges accused of misconduct. Lawmakers passed legislation allowing defendants who enter a first offender plea in a criminal case to ask the judge to immediately and permanently get their files sealed. In the waning minutes of the session, they approved a measure to make it more difficult for the public to find out if a lawmaker has a potential conflict of interest on legislation.“
Throwing a $1.4 million party in a state with crumbling roads and bridges, rampant poverty and grossly underfunded schools is a reflection of the political elite’s warped priorities. But the secrecy surrounding the event’s donors illustrates another — potentially even bigger — problem: today’s elected officials go out of their way to keep the public in the dark.
Perhaps it’s because they know that the more voters know about the massive amounts of money being dumped into Georgia politics, the more likely we are to finally tell our elected officials that the party’s over.