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08 June 2012

Ethics Becomes Central Issue in Senate Race Between Belinfante, Ellenburg & Hill

Earlier this week, Republican state Senate candidate Hunter Hill told the Marietta Daily Journal he believes the Common Cause/TEA Party ethics pledge is a gimmick.

"Our current laws allow for individuals and businesses to contribute up to $2,500 in cash to each legislator, per election," Hill said. "Would a $200 dinner influence a legislator more than a $2,500 cash contribution? Not likely."


Now, one of Hill's opponents in the GOP primary is taking issue with his characterization of a pledge that urges lawmakers to pass ethics reform with a provision imposing a $100 cap on lobbyists' gifts.

Josh Belinfante again reiterated his vow not to accept any gifts from lobbyists that exceed $100 in value. Then Belinfante took a jab at Hunter Hill's statement to the press.

Declaring that campaign contributions carry more weight with Hill than lobbyists' gifts, Belinfante said, "Voters have told me that they don’t want their State Senator to be influenced by sports tickets, expensive dinners and golf trips. I stand with them not because I distrust our elected officials or advocates, but because I believe in doing everything I can to earn the trust of people in Cobb and Fulton counties and, I will never do anything to break that trust.

"People contribute to campaigns because they want good principled government driven by their system of beliefs, and it is a right protected by the First Amendment," Belinfante continued. "There’s a huge difference between a protected right and a desire for $200 dinners, and it is an area where I sharply disagree with my opponent."

Josh Belinfante, Drew Ellenburg, and Hunter Hill are vying for the Republican nominating to challenge Democrat state Senator Doug Stoner in November.

Ellenburg, according to the Marietta Daily Journal, has signed the Common Cause/TEA Party pledge, which reads in part:

"I pledge, if elected, to co-sponsor a bill during the 2013 legislative session to limit each lobbyist gift to $100."