Rep.: State legislature ‘proven itself to be unable to police its own leadership on ethics’

ATLANTA – A state representative from Smyrna says he wants to put a “screeching halt” on the state legislature policing itself when it comes to matters of ethics.

“The Georgia General Assembly has proven itself to be unable to police its own leadership on ethics,” Rep. Rob Teilhet, D-Smyrna, said in a news release. “Georgians would never allow accused criminals to act as their own judge and jury. My bill will no longer allow partisan politicians to control their own ethics enforcement.”

Ethics have been a hot topic since House Speaker Glenn Richardson resigned his post in December following a suicide attempt and allegations by his ex-wife that he had an affair with a lobbyist. Blue Ridge Republican David Ralston was selected as Richardson’s replacement.

“This year we must address the underlying culture of corruption that has allowed self-dealing and conflicts of interest to run rampant at our Capitol,” Teilhet said. “It’s imperative that we pass meaningful ethics reform this session, and get our public officials back to the business of serving constituents, rather than themselves.”

Under Teilhet’s proposal, the State Ethics Commission would have the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute “conflict of interest cases” involving members of the Georgia General Assembly once they receive a written complaint. Teilhet noted that the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee in 2007 dismissed a complaint by Bobby Kahn, then-chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, against Richardson that alleged the ex-speaker was having an affair with a lobbyist for Atlanta Gas Light.

Also, the Georgia Supreme Court would have the authority to appoint the State Ethics Commission’s members; the state legislature currently appoints the members.

Teilhet is also running for Georgia Attorney General.

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