Speaking at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Sandy Springs on Wednesday during an ethics reform discussion sponsored by Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Tea Party Patriots and Common Cause Georgia, McKoon said the nonbinding vote will send a message to the state Legislature.
“I can’t think of a better opportunity to make your voice heard in a way that will be measurable and will matter than in the primary on July 31,” he said.
Other speakers at the event, which drew about 35 attendees, included Atlanta Unfiltered website founder Jim Walls, whose report on the State Integrity Investigation website gave Georgia an F grade in ethics and ranked the state 50th, Common Cause Georgia Executive Director William Perry and Atlanta Tea Party state coordinator Julianne Thompson.
Thompson said a proposed cap of $100 per legislator per lobbyist per day is more than enough for dinner money.
“That’s a lot of money,” she said. “If you cannot go to dinner for $100, then go somewhere less expensive. Eat at Chili’s like the rest of us.”
Perry said the cap movement is making lobbyists share restaurant tabs for a single legislator so each contribution does not exceed $100.
“We are changing behavior,” he said. “We haven’t been successful with the bill yet, but we are having an impact on the system.”
Perry said state House Ethics Committee chair and District 52 State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, will be invited to a future panel discussion.
“In all fairness, we set the date and then invited him,” Perry said about Tuesday’s event.
Wilkinson said before the event, which the former Navy captain declined due to a commitment made in February to speak before the Naval Reserve Association, he welcomes the opportunity.
“I’m always happy to have a discussion on ethics,” he said.
Wilkinson maintained, however, he opposes caps because they don’t work.
“To call caps ‘reform’ is misleading,” he said.
According to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly the Georgia Ethics Commission, more than 1,200 registered lobbyists, including three for Common Cause, operate under the Gold Dome.
During the 2012 legislative session, they disclosed about $940,000 in expenditures, a little more than half of the 2011 total of $1.8 million.