Originally created 02/26/97

A terrible lapse



"Clearly we have fallen down in some of our responsibilities."

That burst of candor comes from Georgia Secretary of State Lewis Massey's press secretary, after reports that Massey never asked members of state boards and authorities to file disclosures as required by a five-year-old law.

Public officials must report their property, business interests and any payments from the state. Faced with an Ethics Committee subpoena, virtually every elected official complies. But with no enforcement from the secretary of state, no member of the influential Board of Industry, Trade and Tourism disclosed holdings in 1996, nor did members of dozens of panels.

It's incredible how Massey - and predecessor Max Cleland, who's now the new U.S. senator - could have let this slide. These officials control billions of public dollars!

After winning election in November, Massey fired the chief and deputy of the election division (whose duties include alerting officials to the need to make the disclosures). The good news is that Linda Beasley, formerly Augusta's longtime election director, has been hired by Massey to help get this mess straightened out. We wish for her every success.