Bet you didn’t know this:
The chief lobbyist for the state’s 35-school University System has been replaced as the biggest spender at the Capitol. The new champ as the top lobbyist is the University of Georgia.
On what, you might ask.
As a result, the new top dog is UGA lobbyist Randy Powers, who reported spending about $24,000 on state officials and lawmakers during the final five months of 2007, the most recent reporting period.
Most of that went for football tickets to everyone from Gov. Sonny Perdue and Secretary of State Karen Handel to Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) and back-bench legislators.
But that’s not all.
UGA reported spending about $7,000 in legislator expenses for just the Sugar Bowl, which was held New Year’s Day in New Orleans. UGA paid the travel expenses and meals and bought tickets for several state lawmakers and their spouses or guests. Richardson’s tab alone came to almost $1,500.
Go, Dawgs! Well, according to UGA spokesman Tom Jackson, it’s not fun and games on Game Day. Not at all.
“We’re the flagship institution in the University System,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of people interested in what’s going on at the university.
“If you’ve ever been in the president’s box at a football game, there is not a lot of football-watching going on,” he said. “There is a lot of conversation, a lot of questions and answers, and a lot of work going on, with people being informed about what’s going on at the university.”
Sure, sure – we understand. And here’s the other side backing that up:
State Rep. Doug McKillip (D-Athens), a UGA alum whose district includes the school, attended every home game this fall at the invitation of the university. Powers’ disclosure also shows the school paid $2,270 for McKillip and his wife to attend the Sugar Bowl.
“I think it’s important I am there [at games] as a representative for this area and as sort of an emissary for Athens,” said McKillip, who during the football season was serving his first fall in the General Assembly. “It’s a good opportunity to introduce people to Athens and talk to them about the local culture here and everything the university has to offer.”
He’s on the job. Sweet!
Maybe this helps you understand a little more why Michael Adams wants to get the out of control D-1 postseason under control – his control. He can put it to better use.