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02 February 2010

Democrats Say GOP Paying Lip-Service To Ethics Reform

The following is a press release issued by the state Democratic Party Monday in response to the news that State Ethics Commission member Robert Proctor was fined by the body he now serves on six years ago, but refuses to comply with the body's order [McWhirter, Cameron (2010-2-1). Ethics panel member says 2004 lobbyist fine invalid. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-2-2.]

As his final act as interim speaker of the Georgia House, Representative Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) appointed a board member to the State Ethics Commission that was previously found in violation of ethics charges by the same board.

In 2004, the State Ethics Commission ruled against Robert Proctor, an Atlanta attorney, and ordered Proctor to pay a $1,000 fine, register as a lobbyist and file financial disclosure forms for 2003 and 2004. Proctor admits to doing none of these things, yet was appointed by his longtime friend Burkhalter to the Commission board last month.

Proctor’s appointment was one of Burkhalter’s final actions as interim speaker of the Georgia House.

The appointment puts Proctor in the unusual position of judging ethical issues for the Commission while having been found in violation by the very same body. More importantly, it shows “contempt for ethics in general,” said Matt Weyandt, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

“After the Glenn Richardson debacle, we need strong leadership to clean up the Gold Dome. ‘Business as usual’ can no longer apply,” he continued.

Proctor has refused to comply with the State Ethics Commission findings. Unbelievably, he now sits on the board of the Commission, judging ethical issues for a panel that found him guilty several years ago.

"Republicans are paying lip-service to ethics reform. They're not changing anything, or acting any different,” Weyandt said. “We call on Proctor to suspend his assignment to the State Ethics Commission board until he submits to their authority and clears up his past ethical entanglements.”