Perry unveils new ‘Watchdog’ ethics initiative

[private]William Perry is striking out on his own with a one-man shop that will monitor the official actions of Georgia politicians and occasionally file an ethics complaint or two.

Perry, who until recently was the executive director of Common Cause Georgia, unveiled Wednesday his “Georgia Ethics Watchdogs” initiative that will try to alert the public when it thinks questionable political activities are taking place.

“Our goal is to take actions to hold public officials accountable to those who put them in office – the people of our state,” he said.

It’s a skeleton crew for now. Perry is the only staffer and will work mainly out of his home; he’ll also have to start the grind of trying to raise money from persons or entities who might be supportive of his cause.

He has formed a “strategic alliance” with Jim Walls, a retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter and editor who has been running an ethics watchdog website of his own for several years, Atlanta Unfiltered.

“It’s something that’s going to evolve over time,” said Walls at a media briefing with capitol reporters.

Walls said he’s now embarking on a project called “Georgia’s Loopholes from A to Z,” a series of 26 articles for his website that will focus on loopholes and weak points in the state’s ethics act.

Perry was a high-profile director of Common Cause for five years, pushing for the revision of the state’s ethics laws to put a cap on lobbyist spending and publicly criticizing what he saw as the ethical shortcomings of the administrations of Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The campaign to limit lobbyist spending succeeded in 2013 with the Legislature’s passage of an ethics reform bill. Other Perry projects, such as an attempt to call a referendum to stop the public funding of the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium, fell short.

He was asked to resign as Common Cause’s director in August in the midst of a turbulent year that saw the organization replace several of its directors and take on a new mission in accord with the national office.

“The parting of the ways with Common Cause was not my choice,” Perry said, but added that he is “looking forward to being the one who plays the bad cop role” in trying to police unethical behavior.

Georgia Ethics Watchdogs has set up a website and a Facebook page.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Common Cause Georgia , Georgia Ethics Watchdogs , Jim Walls , William Perry