Late yesterday, Georgia Ethics Watchdogs filed our first ethics complaint in an effort to spotlight needed changes in Georgia’s ethics laws.
Our complaint was filed against former Senate Majority Chip Rogers with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission for violating campaign disclosure laws by not being specific about loans from himself to his campaign, which were then paid back three years later. He also has not filed required reports, seven in all, since 2013.
So what’s the problem? Jim Walls with AtlantaUnfilitered.com discovered discrepancies in Roger’s reports and posted his story about it yesterday, which explains it best:
“Former Sen. Chip Rogers has laid the groundwork to write himself checks for more than $84,000 from two dormant campaign accounts.
Rogers may already have done so. There’s no way to know for sure, in part because he’s failed to file new disclosures of his campaign finances, as required by law, since 2013.
But the former Senate majority leader has spent plenty of time revising older disclosures, recording tens of thousands of dollars of previously undisclosed debt for out-of-pocket expenses.
His revised disclosures raise a question that Georgia law does not address: Can a candidate retroactively claim to have made campaign loans that were never reported while in office?” Read more from Jim
By not filing the seven required reports since 2013, Rogers has left over $200,000 in campaign funds unreported.
So why file a complaint against someone now out of office on violations from three to six years ago? Because it still matters! It may or may not be the case with Rogers, but such lack of transparency can lead to candidates using campaign funds for personal use. And with state officials today announcing that former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine may have committed a felony with his personal use of campaign funds, this may indicated a wide-spread problem.
If we can trust them not to break the law with their own campaign funds, how can we trust them to spend our tax dollars responsibly? Or not accept bribes from those seeking favorable legislation?
This is why I formed Georgia Ethics Watchdogs – to take action against public officials and candidates who blatantly break the law. They need to be held accountable. If enough of them are properly punished for breaking the law, then you can bet enough of them and their colleagues will be shamed into strengthening our laws to prevent such abuse.