In the aftermath of the well-publicized “pay-to-play” scandals in locales such as Illinois and New Mexico in early 2009, a number of state legislators across the country felt compelled to propose pay-to-play legislation in their own states. One such state where legislation was proposed in 2009–and likely will be again in 2010–is Georgia.
During the 2009 Legislative Session, veteran Senator George Hooks (D-Americus) proposed Senate Bill 70, which would have extended Georgia’s existing ban on contributions from “regulated entities” to certain “elected state executive officers.” O.C.G.A. § 21-5-30.1 currently states in part that “no regulated entity and no person or political action committee acting on behalf of a regulated entity shall make a contribution to or on behalf of a person holding office as an elected executive officer regulating such entity” or to a candidate for such office. The statute further states that nothing in this prohibition shall prevent individuals employed by “regulated entities” from making contributions to applicable “elected executive officers” from their personal funds.
Senate Bill 70 maintained both well-reasoned provisions above. The bill also proposed to require “elected executive officers” or candidates, that received contributions from individuals employed by applicable “regulated entities,” to separately identify such contributions on their campaign contribution disclosure reports. Senate Bill 70 would have also prohibited “elected executive officers” from soliciting contributions from individuals employed by “regulated entities.”
While Senate Bill 70 failed to become law, it did not go quietly into the night. Indeed, Senate Bill 70 passed the Senate unanimously, and ultimately was sponsored by legislators of both parties. Such factors indicate both that similar legislation is likely to appear again in Georgia in 2010, and that pay-to-play legislation has the continued potential to receive bi-partisan support nationwide.