Wednesday, June 30, 2010



Last year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote articles critical of a bill I sponsored to make needed changes to the state-sanctioned oversight council that regulates private probation companies. The articles suggested it was a self-serving bill because I am the CEO of a private probation company. This is a complete distortion of the truth and a complete distortion of the facts surrounding this legislation.

I made one mistake in this process and that was not setting the record straight about the AJC’s incorrect account of how and why I wrote this good legislation. I chose to ignore this negative journalism and concentrate on my legislative work.

Unfortunately, though, some of my opponents in the campaign for the 7th Congressional District have intentionally misrepresented these bills and cited the AJC in an attempt to attack me.

Please allow me to set the record straight about HB 619 and HB 622 and explain the FACTS.

FACT 1: Neither of these bills passed – or even made it out of committee.

FACT 2: Debra Nesbit, the Government Affairs Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, came to me with deep concerns about the significant funding shortfall of the County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council. The Appropriations Committee had discussed defunding the Council. HB 619 would simply have put private probation companies under the oversight of Secretary of State if – and only if – the Council was defunded. The Council was not defunded, so HB 619 went nowhere.

FACT 3: Section 4 (a)(1) of HB 622 requires private probation companies to pay an annual registration fee with a court system. This would have helped fund the Council. A later version of the bill (filed with the committee but not available on the Legislative Website) increased this annual fee based on how many contracts each company held –CLICK HERE FOR DOCUMENTATION. This would have cost my employer thousands of dollars per year. That alone should make it clear I introduced this bill because it was the right thing to do for the taxpayers.

FACT 4: A provision in the bill would have prevented the Council from altering contracts between probation companies and court systems. The AJC insinuated that this was intended to help me resolve a dispute between my employer and the Council. This is not true. The Deputy Legislative Counsel gave a legal opinion that without the language, the Council would not be in Constitutional compliance. Instead of the ability to alter contracts, the Council was given the ability to fine private probation companies.

FACT 5: The Administrative Office of the Courts has called this legislation a "win-win for the people of Georgia" – CLICK HERE FOR DOCUMENTATION. Officials with the AOC are currently looking for another legislator who will take up this important issue and pass it next year. The AOC believes it is desperately needed so the Council can continue to oversee private probation companies.