I also don’t think lobbyists are the devil incarnate. In fact, I believe that they can serve a useful purpose by supplying additional information to legislators. Having said that, Senator Rogers has some questions to answer.
Senator Rogers is a Georgia GOP state senator from Woodstock, and the state senate majority leader. He has also been the Director of Government Affairs for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
Rogers says that while he did lobby for the group, he only did so when the state legislature was not in session. The problem is that Rogers is an elected representative of his district, not just during legislative sessions, but year round.
Rogers last made the news almost exactly one month ago as a member of the cabal that greatly reduced the power and influence of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. Given Cagle’s reputation, only the most naïve believe that the two stories are unrelated.
Whether or not it’s true that Cagle and his vindictive nature are responsible for this information being brought forward is immaterial. I’d like to know what Chip Rogers was thinking. This is 2010 and it’s far too easy for people to know what you’re doing, whom you’re doing it for and then releasing it to the public.
It’s not just a matter of doing the right thing, it’s also about being above suspicion. It’s also about elected Republican leaders shooting themselves in their feet, while they are trampling on the toes of their party.
I am not saying that Rogers has done anything illegal. Though questions have been raised, no one has made that accusation publicly. In fact, on the WSB news site, Rick Thompson, former executive secretary of the Georgia State Ethics Commission is quoted as saying that Georgia law does not stop elected officials at the state level from working as a lobbyist on Washington or in other states. If Rogers was an advocate for legislation that PCRM supported, then that is more problematic.
Still, Rogers dual responsibilities begs some pertinent questions. If I were able to interview Senator Rogers, this is what I would like to know:
1. When did you begin and end lobbying for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine?
a. Why did that relationship end?2. Have you ever, before or since becoming a legislator, lobbied for any other business or organization?
b. Who approached whom about lobbying?
c. How much were you paid?
d. Which specific bills and issues did you lobby for or against and whom did you lobby?
3. Did you make your fellow legislators aware that you were also a paid lobbyist?
4. You stated that you were not paid by PCRM during the session, but did you encourage passage of bills PCRM supported during the session?
5. Did you vote on legislation which you lobbied other legislators to pass or to vote down?
6. Did you use funds from PCRM to buy meals or gifts for your fellow legislators?
7. Do you believe you broke any laws by accepting pay to be a lobbyist while being a representative of your district?
a. Do you believe it was immoral or unethical?8. Would you favor legislation making what you did illegal? If so, will you introduce or support that legislation?
b. Do you understand why some would see it was unethical?
9. When do you think Lt. Governor Casey Cagle leaked this information?