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Senator Denies Wrongdoing
Tuesday, 22 January 2013

January 23--  State Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons says he did nothing wrong in helping bring a cancer treatment hospital to Georgia.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution published a story on legislator ethics prior to the start of this year's General Assembly session and singled out Senator Williams and several others.

The paper took Williams to task for accepting nearly $11,000 in legal campaign contributions over several years from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and then leading the effort to pass a Certificate of Need law which allowed the company to gain access to Georgia.

Image"I did fight a battle for a number of years to bring this hospital here because the big hospitals in Atlanta and around the state did not want competition in the cancer market.  The protected it with a vengence.  They hired 90 lobbyists to fight Cancer Treatment Centers of America from coming to Georgia.  We were able to win that fight and change the law so there is more availability for people in my district and across the state to get treated for cancer.  My dad died of cancer and I had a personal reason for fighting for more opportunities for Georgians.  As a result of passing the bill, we also made it easier for hospitals like Meadows Regional Medical Center to build a new hospital and a new cancer treatment center," Senator Williams says.

Senator Williams now serves on the board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital which opened last August in Newnan and donates his compensation to charity.

"The money they pay me for serving on the board is donated to a charity at the hospital.  I receive no financial benefit personally.  The hospital has a charitable fund to help folks who can't afford to pay their cancer bill and that money goes toward that fund," he says.

The AJC reports the cancer company spent more than $350,000 in campaign contributions and lobbyists gifts to lawmakers from 2006 to 2008 when the Certificate of Need bill passed the legislature with 89 percent of lawmakers in favor.

Today Senator Williams says he favors reducing the amount of campaign contributions politicians can accept and claims the contributions he received from Cancer Treatment Centers of America had no influence on his efforts.

"I never felt like I was influenced, but money does talk here in Atlanta and in Washington.  There is corruption and it's part of the nature of man to be corrupt, but I'm doing all I can to make sure it doesn't happen to me," he said.

Senator Williams says this year he is taking no gifts from lobbyists.  He reports he will pay for any meals, ballgame tickets or gifts he accepts from lobbyists.

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