In his 11 days as speaker of the Georgia House, Mark Burkhalter made dozens of political appointments -- including ones that put a former Atlanta Falcons quarterback on a committee regulating athletes' agents and a Fulton County tax attorney on the State Ethics Commission.
Burkhalter, a Republican from Johns Creek, was elevated from speaker pro tem Jan. 1 after Speaker Glenn Richardson resigned amid allegations he had an affair with a Capitol lobbyist.
He had the job until Jan. 11, the first day of the 2010 General Assembly session and election day for current Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).
In that time, Burkhalter filled about 30 of the 83 committee appointments that staff said are reserved for the House speaker.
Among Burkhalter's appointments were: former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski to the Georgia Athlete Agent Regulatory Commission; tax lawyer Bob Proctor of Alpharetta to the State Ethics Commission; and Alpharetta attorney Wendy Butler to the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Burkhalter, who grew up around Alpharetta, and Butler are both on the board of directors of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, according to that group's Web site.
Susan Meyers, a spokeswoman for Burkhalter, said the appointments were “nothing more than paperwork that Glenn Richardson had neglected for many months -- in some cases years."
"Mark didn't particularly agree that some of these boards or commissions should even exist, but by law they required an appointment,” she said. “Others, however, affect important decisions -- such as the Ethics Commission and the Tollway Authority. He was glad to promptly fill those posts as each may have work to do this year."
Ralston, through a spokesman, said: “The speaker of the House has a number of appointive powers, and it is my understanding that Speaker Burkhalter exercised the powers given to him by law.”
One of Burkhalter’s appointees was a replacement for Ralston on the General Oversight Committee for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.
Several others were reappointments to groups such as the Georgia Technology Authority Board, the Commission on Men's Health and the Georgia Council on Aging.
Proctor said Burkhalter, whom he has known for 20 years, called him and asked him whether he would serve on the Ethics Commission, which considers complaints against elected officials accused of violating state ethics and campaign disclosure laws.
He said he told Burkhalter "I wouldn't turn him down."
Proctor has battled both state and local governments on behalf of taxpayers and said he sees his new role as something "quite different."