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State Senate candidates trade charges on ethics pledge
by Tom Spigolon
August 16, 2012 09:35 AM | 1723 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District 31 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, said last week he signed an ethics pledge to the voters promising to introduce his own legislation with a strict limit on lobbyist gifts to legislators.

He also said his opponent in the Aug. 21 runoff for the District 31 seat, Bill Carruth, took meals and trips as gifts from lobbyists during Carruth’s time on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources board.

“In the most stunning display of hypocrisy I have ever witnessed in politics, [Carruth] has attacked me for being the recipient of some meals paid for by lobbyists. Of course, he fails to disclose that as a member of the Board of Natural Resources he also received meals and even hunting trips paid for by lobbyists. He also took hunting and fishing trips paid for by the taxpayers in this position. Hypocrisy is not a west Georgia value.”

Spokesman Chip Lake said the Carruth campaign would “be happy to comment” if Heath can provide evidence of Carruth taking gifts as a Department of Natural Resources board member.

Lake said Heath also had not signed the Georgia Conservatives in Action / Georgia Tea Party pledge to limit gifts from lobbyists to $100.

“He refuses to sign it,” Lake stated in an e-mail. “He says he typed up his own but why not sign their pledge?”

Also, Carruth is in support of Speaker David Ralston’s proposal [last] weekend to eliminate lobbbyist freebies altogether, Lake said.

“Does Bill Heath agree with Speaker Ralston’s proposal or does he think he goes too far?” Lake asked.

Heath said he signed the pledge to introduce legislation on the first day of the 2013 Legislative Session to impose a strict limit on gifts from lobbyists to legislators.

“I have consistently voted for tough new ethics laws while serving in the Legislature and I am proud of the fact that over my 10 years of public service I have never been involved in a scandal of any kind,” he said.

Heath said he asked Legislative counsel to draft a bill to limit gifts to $100.

The voters spoke “loudly and clearly that they want a tougher limit on lobbyists” during a non-binding referendum July 31, Heath said.

“I agree with [voters] and will introduce legislation to do so on the first day of the next Legislative Session if the voters decide to grant me another term,” he said.

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