Remember Kip Smith (R-Columbus), the Georgia legislator recently charged with driving under the influence? What made his arrest even more interesting is his sponsorship of a bill that would require welfare recipients to undergo drug tests.
Turns out Rep. Smith is not what you’d typically call a “good government type” or “reformer.” Instead, the 29-year-old lawmaker is the fresh-faced, plump-cheeked son of a powerful politician who wasted no time taking his place to feed at the lobbyists’ trough. In fact, he had been out with lobbyists the night he was arrested.
According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Smith won a special election in 2009 to claim the seat vacated by his father, former Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance Smith. Since arriving for his first legislative session in January 2010, Kip Smith has accepted nearly $10,000 in lobbyist meals, trips and gifts.
Gifts included $740 for lodging at Amelia Island Plantation on the northeast Florida coast for the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores 2010 convention; $1,130 in tickets to Atlanta Braves and Falcons games and the Atlanta Zoo; and dozens of meals, drinks and other entertainment expenses.
Mitch Ambler of the Georgia good-government group Citizens Helping America Restore Government Ethics said Smith’s arrest, combined with the sums that lobbyists spend on him, “raise a red flag with me.”
Since his arrest, Smith has drawn opposition in the Republican primary from Columbus businessman John Pezold.