Governor Nathan Deal said Thursday he was merely a dispassionate observer in the fight over whether or not to impose a $100 ceiling on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.

Deal told Atlanta public radio WABE that the press bore a measure of the blame for the new ethics ballyhoo: the state’s executive branch had already adopted a zero-gift ban and Georgia’s ethics laws were considered among the tightest in the nation “several years ago,” he said.

“I would simply point out that we put in place a zero-gift ban for the executive branch government,” Deal said in the exchange. “The press has never seen fit to talk about that, so i’m not sure if the legislative branch adopts any reforms, that the press is going to give them credit for doing it.”

“It is ironic that several years ago, the current ethics law that the state of Georgia has in place was regarded as one of the best in country, and I don’t think people need to lose sight of that fact now,” he told WABE’s Dennis O’Hayer.

– James Richardson