And one example that deserves further explanation is DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader and his push for a county auditor.
Last year, Rader introduced legislation to expedite the hiring of an auditor. Certainly, the accusations against Ellis warranted hiring one sooner rather than later. Rader’s legislation was opposed by a commission majority led by Elaine Boyer and Sharon Barnes-Sutton.
With Boyer recently resigning from office in disgrace after admitting to the FBI that she committed wire and mail fraud related to her expense account, to the tune of $93,000, and with Barnes-Sutton being accused of $34,000 in payments from her office budget to her boyfriend for “political consulting,” we can conclude their opposition was likely guided by their own actions.
In a state that ranks 50th in the nation on the strength of our ethics laws, and with these and other scandals across the state, it would seem easy to find more elected officials who stand tall like the good examples listed above. Unfortunately, most leaders we elect in this state, while honest, do not take on issues that those in power or who abuse the system refer to as “do-gooder” legislation. We suffer from a real lack of public officials with enough intestinal fortitude to step up and say that they and their colleagues need greater oversight and stricter controls.
Common Cause Georgia will keep pushing for legislation to require local governments to limit the temptation of money in politics that lead to abuse and corruption. We will continue to highlight, applaud and support the efforts of those at the local level who stand up for what is needed. But our best hope is for the people of our great state to demand more policing of themselves from our elected leaders at the state level and, crucially, in local government. We deserve better.
William Perry is executive director of Common Cause Georgia.