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Public Statements

Issue Position: Pledges

Issue Position

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When you decide to run for public office, you get mail from every special interest group imaginable asking you to take a pledge in support of their cause, usually in the broadest possible terms. I do not make such pledges, even when I agree with the request in principle, because litigation can be very nuanced, and how specific goals should be accomplished can be the subject of legitimate debate.

When you choose not to make pledges to special interest groups as a matter of principle, you automatically lose their endorsement, even if you agree with what they stand for. For example, my opponent proclaims that he is the only candidate endorsed by Georgia Right to Life. While he has that endorsement, I am equally pro-life and will work hard to expand and protect the rights of the unborn. I will not, however, agree to vote "yes" on every pro-life piece of legislation that comes along without first reading the bill, knowing and understanding what it says, and making sure that it is good legislation that accomplishes the stated goal in the best way possible.

Just because I agree with the subject of a bill does not mean it is a good bill. The pledge requested by Common Cause of Georgia is a good example. My opponent has signed a pledge with Common Cause of Georgia to introduce and support a bill that reads, in its entirety, "It shall be unlawful for a lobbyist to make a gift to a public officer where the value of the gift is more than $100.00." Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it? But it really is not good legislation, and here is why: First, the bill makes it unlawful for a lobbyist to give gifts, but does not make it unlawful for a public official to take gifts. I think that is wrong. Legislators are servants of the people, not their masters. I will not sponsor legislation that treats me more favorably than the citizens I am honored to represent. Second, although the legislation makes the giving of some gifts "unlawful" there is absolutely no penalty attached to violating the law. A lobbyist who violates this proposed law is not subject to a fine, arrest or any penalty whatsoever. This is a classic case of legislation that makes for good photo opportunities and hand-shaking, but accomplishes absolutely nothing. I support strongly limiting gifts that lobbyists give to public officials, but let's pass a law that actually solves the problem.

I realize that some people really like pledges, so here are a few from me:

I pledge to support the Constitutions of Georgia and the United States.

I pledge not to vote on a bill until I have read every word of it and understand it.

I pledge to conduct myself with integrity and with professionalism. I will treat fellow legislators with the dignity their office deserves, even if I vehemently disagree with their political views


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