Thomasville Times Enterprise

Homepage

September 14, 2013

NO MORE FREEBIES

ATLANTA —  One college football tradition in Georgia will soon disappear: Letting politicians into the stadium for free.

A new law taking effect next year bans lobbyists from giving Georgia's politicians free college football tickets, a rite as well-established as Game Day beer and barbecue in the football-obsessed South. As the season kicks off, lobbyists and lawmakers are squeezing in a few more free games before the prohibition takes effect Jan. 1.

Disclosure reports show that lobbyists have given Georgia politicians nearly $1,400 in college football tickets and related entertainment since the start of the season in late August. That's just the beginning. Last year, registered lobbyists shelled out more than $14,000 in tickets and perks at college football games, according to an Associated Press review of the spending reports that lobbyists must file.

Many lawmakers get tickets in Georgia because the Legislature controls the $6.4 billion higher education budget, including the roughly $1.9 billion that comes directly from state coffers. A free ticket probably won't swing a vote, said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia. However, he described the tickets as just one part of the unchecked lobbyist spending that distorted Georgia politics.

"What happens is that it creates a culture, a luxury of lifestyle for our elected officials," Perry said.

Just having access to tickets can be a nice perk. Spending on football tickets accounted for just over 1 percent of the $1.3 million that lobbyists spent in 2012. That underestimates the value of the tickets considering most games played by the University of Georgia are sold out. Average fans cannot get inside a stadium unless they pay markups or have season tickets, which require mandatory "donations" and sitting on a waiting list.

Get elected to office, and you can go for free. UGA spent about $9,500 on tickets for public officials last year. This year, it's invited state lawmakers to an Oct. 12 game against Missouri. Tickets for that game were selling Friday from a low of $74.99 to a high of $1,127.50 on StubHub, an online ticket market.

"The current law is in effect for this football season. And we'll abide by it," UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said. "And the new law isn't going to affect us until next football season. And we'll abide by the new law."

Text Only
Homepage
Harper

Ken Harper admires trophies won the by the Yellow Jackets during his coaching career.

Local News
ch

People gather at the Thomas County Courthouse in this photo from the 1800s.

Calendar of events
Local Sports
Obituaries
Business Marquee
House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Photos


Poll

Do you believe Israel's invasion of Gaza is justified?

Yes
No
     View Results
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad