From left, Common Cause Executive Director Bob Bozarth presents Sandy Springs City Attorney and Dist. 49 State Rep. Wendell Willard with the Outstanding Public Official award.

Common Cause, a nonpartisan advocacy organization, recently honored Sandy Springs City Attorney and Dist. 49 State Rep. Wendell Willard for his efforts to rein in lobbyists.

Willard received the organization’s Outstanding Public Official award May 2 during the 2010 Democracy Awards Celebration held at the Buckhead home of Bob and Lynn Irvin. About 125 guests attended, including Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos and her husband John.

“Common Cause has long admired the legislative work of Wendell Willard,” Executive Director Bob Bozarth said in an e-mail. “He’s smart; he works hard; he places a high value on ethical behavior in public office; and he’s willing to sponsor legislation that holds him and his colleagues to a higher standard.”

During this year’s session of the General Assembly, Willard introduced House Bill 920, an ethics reform bill. The legislation did not pass.

“We were very disappointed,” Bozarth said. “House Bill 920 would have raised the bar considerably by reining in lobbyist gifts and the flow of campaign money between accounts for all sorts of non-campaign purposes. Wendell had 40 co-sponsors for his bill — from both parties and from all corners of the state.

“While it would have been more satisfying to acknowledge Willard for a ‘breakthrough’ in ethics reform this year, it is equally important to recognize those who will stand for doing the right thing, even when those efforts fall short,” stated Bozarth.