U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak

U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak, at the podium next to Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, announces that Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim C. Beck has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, Tuesday, May 14 in Atlanta.

A Georgia lawmaker has filed two bills that could stop public officials from being paid while they are suspended from office.

House Minority Leader Robert “Bob” Trammell pre-filed House Bill 742 and House Bill 874 ahead of the 2020 legislative session that would change current law.

“They’re not going to work. They’re not doing the job. Somebody else is having to do that job,” Trammell said. “The taxpayers should not be paying them for the work in that circumstance.”

House Bill 874 will change Georgia’s constitution to prohibit state government officials, who are facing felony indictment, from receiving their taxpayer-funded salaries. The change will apply to all members of the General Assembly and other high-ranking officials such as the governor, his lieutenant, the secretary of state, state superintendent of schools and the attorney general.

Also included is Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who is currently facing federal embezzlement and fraud charges after authorities alleged that he stole $2 million from his former employer to fund his campaign. 

Beck voluntarily suspended himself in May, according to the Associated Press, but he is still being paid by state taxpayers. The position comes with a $120,000 salary along with benefits.

“That instance sort of highlights the flaw in the law,” Trammell said. 

Trammell’s second prefiled bill would change Georgia law to block pay for all other public officials and employees who are suspended because of a federal indictment.

House Bill 742 will apply to any elected local official, district attorney, school board member or those who serve in similar capacities.

According to the proposals, once the affected public official is reinstated to his or her position, they would be able to recover the lost wages.

“It doesn’t take any due process for public elected officials, but it just conforms the law to what is best practice and the best use for taxpayer money.”

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.