“I think this is a great result for both parties,” he said.
The agency, formally known as the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, is charged with collecting campaign finance, vendor gift and lobbying expenditure reports; registering lobbyists; issuing advisory opinions; and dispensing penalties for violations.
Ritter was an 18-year veteran of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office when he was unanimously chosen over three other candidates to lead the agency. He had previously been the commission’s counsel and was known as an expert on Georgia’s sunshine laws.
Ritter took control of the commission at a tumultuous time. The agency had been without an executive director for months after the firing of Holly LaBerge, who was sanctioned and fined for her role in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by her predecessor.
In 2015, a Fulton County jury found her predecessor, Stacey Kalberman, had been forced from her job for investigating the campaign of Gov. Nathan Deal, and it awarded her and her attorneys $1.15 million.
After years of inaction, a backlog of more than 150 cases was finally cleared in 2017 — just in time for the agency to handle a slew of new complaints filed by Georgia residents, watchdog groups and political adversaries.
The commission put off making any decisions on a series of complaints made during the 2018 campaign, not wanting to influence the elections. So 2019 is expected to be a heavy year for the panel.
“We’re absolutely going to continue to prosecute the cases which we believe have probable cause and have merit,” Evans said. “We are going to move forward on initiating that as promptly as we can, and we are going to reduce the adverse impact of this on the commission and the staff. “