Former top staffer on Georgia ethics commission appointed to panel

Rick Thompson, a onetime top Georgia ethics commission staffer, was appointed Tuesday to be one of the five people who rule on complaints filed against campaigns and lobbyists.

Thompson was appointed to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission — better known as the ethics commission — by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

Duncan, who paid Thompson’s company — RTA Strategy — to file his campaign disclosures during his race last year, had a spot to fill on the commission after appointing ethics panel member Allen Yee to the State Road and Tollway Authority.

“Open government is an essential element in fostering confidence in a free, democratic society,” Duncan said in a statement. “Rick Thompson’s expertise and decades of experience will be integral to ensuring Georgians can have faith in our government and its leaders.”

Gov. Nathan Deal tapped Thompson for a spot on the commission in 2016. Thompson had also done work for Deal’s campaign. He eventually turned down the appointment after questions were raised about his eligibility, since he had registered to lobby for his company, which provides disclosure services to candidates, elected officials and others regulated by the commission.

The commission oversees compliance with campaign finance laws as well as lobbyist registrations and expenditures.

Thompson has not registered to lobby at the Capitol since 2016.

RTA has handled campaign finance reports and consulting for dozens of candidates and other entities. RTA has been paid about $325,000 over the past two years by state candidates and funds, including $57,000 by Duncan’s campaign.