Watchdog organizations launched by former ED of Common Cause of Georgia

By David Pendered

William Perry, the former executive director of Common Cause of Georgia, announced Wednesday that he’s launching two new watchdog organizations – Georgia Ethics Watchdogs and the Georgia Ethics Watchdogs Education Fund.

Manuel Maloof Building

Allegations of rampant public corruption in DeKalb County government, headquartered at the Manuel Maloof Building in Decatur, makes DeKalb a likely early focus of William Perry’s work with the new Georgia Ethics Watchdog organization. Credit: static.panoramio.com

Perry said he’s already received a number of suggestions of where he should begin his work.

“I’ve had no shortage of suggestions on Facebook and email,” Perry said. “Everyone in Georgia feels they live in the most corrupt county in the state.”

Here’s how Perry described the organizations in a statement he released:

  • “Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, will serve as a sentinel, a pundit to shine the light on public officials who cross the line by filing ethics complaints when the ethics in government act is violated. Our goal is to take actions to hold public officials accountable to those who put them in office – the people of our state.
  • “The Georgia Ethics Watchdogs Education Fund, a 501(c)3 charitable and educational nonprofit organization, will work to train citizens and advocates to help them become effective government watchdogs.”

Perry has planned a fundraising kickoff party Sept. 28 from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. at Manuel’s Tavern.

Georgia Ethics Watchdog, logo

The logo of Georgia Ethics Watchdog. Credit: gaethicswatchdog.org

Perry incorporated both organizations Aug. 16 as civic and social organizations, according to records filed with the Secretary of State. Perry is the registered agent for each organization.

Perry announced his forced resignation from Common Cause Georgia on Aug. 11. He was ousted as part of a realignment of the national organization under the leadership of former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich.

The national organization intends to work on economic opportunity issues, sustainability and environmental protection. Under Perry’s guidance, the Georgia affiliate focused on watchdog efforts and public policy initiatives.

“I think it’s an opportunity that will work well for all of us,” Perry said. “Common Cause can get a new start, and I can do what I want to do with a singular focus.”

William Perry

William Perry

On the website of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, Perry indicates he harbors no ill will toward Common Cause:

“I will cheer from the sideline with great enthusiasm as CCGA continues with some of the issues I worked on while there, as well as forges new territories (and no doubt excel with) in the arena of public policy.”

Perry also outlines the mission of the new organizations:

“The purpose of both is to fill a void that has long existed in Georgia, by creating a singularly focused watchdog organizations. I say that not as a criticism of my former organization, Common Cause Georgia (CCGA), or as a regret of my time as its executive director for almost 5 years. It took time and training with that organization for me to form the opinion that it is nearly impossible to be successful serving simultaneously as a watchdog and as an advocate for public policy. It’s far too difficult to have the good cop and the bad cop under the same roof.”

DeKalb County will be one area of interest because of the investigation into allegations of government corruption. Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and private investigator Richard Hyde.

In a letter delivered last month to interim DeKalb CEO Lee May, Bowers and Hyde wrote: “The DeKalb County government we have found is rotten to the core. The misconduct starts at the top and has infected nearly every department we have looked at.”

Atlanta’s 2017 mayoral race is another area Perry expects to watch.

“That will be almost unavoidable, making sure that all candidates who vye for that are playing by the rules,” Perry said.

State government also is a likely subject.

“There’s always the governor,” Perry said.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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