A group of prominent conservative activists objected fiercely Saturday to House Speaker David Ralston’s characterization of their ethics crusade as one orchestrated by “liberal special interest groups.”

Under the banner of the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Leadership, a long-time grassroots activist, state tea party organizer and president of the state’s pro-life lobbying outfit skinned the speaker as a bully:

“We strongly condemn the comments made by Speaker Ralston regarding ethics reform. Strong ethics and accountability are not a matter of right versus left. They are a matter of right versus wrong.

“His comments imply that voters and activists should hide our eyes from the realities of ethics violations and the need for reform, and stand by everyone no matter what they do, simply because they have an ‘R’ behind their name.

“Rather than open his heart to the cries from citizens that we have the right to call for accountability, he comments reflect those of someone who seeks to divide our party by falsely accusing those who stand for our values of being divisive. His comments were arrogant and pompous and show an attitude that is anything but a humble public servant.”

As Tipsheet reported yesterday, Ralston admonished “self-absorbed” delegates in a Friday speech for considering a formal rebuke of the Legislature for its failure to tighten the state’s ethics laws.

Those voices pressing for more stringent laws, the Speaker said, were merely masquerading as Republicans:

“In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide us. There are those who would sow the seeds of dissension and discord in order to advance a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party.

“Let me be very clear. Regardless of the course that others may take, as for me and the people’s House of this state, we are going to stand united, working hard, standing Republican shoulder to Republican shoulder, to make Georgia a better state – and not align ourselves with media elites and liberal special interest groups.”

Consider the gauntlet thrown.

– James Richardson