State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, on Jan. 24 compared reforming Georgia’s ethics laws to deciding whether or not the Easter Bunny is real.
During a luncheon in Sandy Springs, Wilkinson, R-Atlanta, recalled a conversation with another legislator about the issue. Wilkinson said the legislator told him some Georgians want ethics reform because “they want to feel better.”
“I know Santa Claus is real, but I’ve had some doubts about the Easter Bunny, so why don’t I say the Easter Bunny is real so I’ll feel better,” Wilkinson said. “I mean this is why we we’re working very carefully to be substantive, not an Easter Bunny type thing.”
Here’s a video of his remarks. The Easter Bunny comparison occurs around the 1:40 mark.
Wilkinson was one of several North Fulton Legislative Delegation members who spoke to local officials at the luncheon. He ripped the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s coverage of the effort to reform the state’s ethics laws. He said the proposed reforms are meant to address “misperception.”
The AJC’s aggressive coverage of loopholes in the state’s ethics laws did not sit well with Wilkinson. AJC articles note that Georgia does not have a limit on the amount lobbyists can spend giving gifts to state legislators. The articles also point out there is no law addressing whether legislators can vote on a bill when they have a conflict of interest.
Groups like Common Cause Georgia and the Georgia Tea Party Patriots are pressuring the Legislature for reforms during this year’s session.
Wilkinson said the reform efforts aren’t supported by the facts.
“I find it interesting there are 10 million people in the state of Georgia and not one of them has come forward with a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing against any legislator,” Wilkinson said. “Now if there’s this massive corruption you would think that someone would find something and come forward, and if they do I’ll hold a hearing that very next morning.”