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transparency project

Join the Georgia Transparency Project

Join the Georgia Transparency Project

State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like. But who decides what constitutes transparency and how diligently to check whether they’re truly telling us what we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.

  • what’s the story here?

    Here's the plan... The Internet brims over with opinion. Facts? Not so much. We want to restore the balance. We dig up & share public records on ethics and transparency in public institutions. Tips, documents & feedback are welcome. We also offer tutorials (we know, it's geeky) so you, too, can dig up public records.

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  • Bada Bing! Speaker Ralston late to disclose $236K in donations

    Bada Bing! Speaker Ralston late to disclose $236K in donations

    May 23, 2016 — A few years back, House Speaker David Ralston backed a move toward greater transparency in Georgia politics. His ethics bill, which took effect in 2014, requires quicker disclosure of lawmakers’ fund-raising before each year’s legislative session.

    So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that Ralston failed to report nearly a quarter-million dollars in campaign contributions collected before legislators showed up for work under the Gold Dome in 2016.

    UPDATE: The report of those contributions, along with more recent filings, appear to contain $13,000 in donations that exceed the legal limit.

    Sen. Steve Gooch (SD 51): Road builders pave way with $93K

    Sen. Steve Gooch (SD 51): Road builders pave way with $93K

    Steve Gooch’s most generous bloc of campaign contributors reflect his service since 2011 on the Senate Transportation Committee, which he chaired in 2013 and 2014. Highway contractors have donated more than $93,000, while railroads, billboard companies and other transportation interests have kicked in $18,000 more.

    Gooch’s campaign raised $147,000 in 2013-14 as Senate Transportation chair. After trading that job for Senate majority whip in late 2014, he’s on track to double that amount in 2015-16.

    transparency project


    Rep. Brooks Coleman (HD 97)

    Rep. Brooks Coleman (HD 97)

    Brooks Coleman, chairman of the House Education Committee since 2005, has raised more than $36,000 in campaign donations from education interests. The amounts are about equally divided between public school advocates and those promoting charter schools and privatization.

    Other Republican legislators have donated much more to Coleman’s campaigns over the years, with slightly more than $100,000 in contribution.

    Rep. Tom Kirby (HD 114)

    Rep. Tom Kirby (HD 114)

    Tom Kirby is one of those legislators whose campaign gets most of its money from other legislators. They’ve given him nearly $90,000 since 2011, or almost 60 percent of all his reported donations.

    FDIC settlement timing sucks for Rep. Greg Morris (HD 156)

    FDIC settlement timing sucks for Rep. Greg Morris (HD 156)

    May 18, 2016 — House Banking chair Greg Morris has tentatively agreed to settle federal charges that he and other executives of a south Georgia bank allowed a flim-flam man to run it into the ground, court papers show.

    News of the potential settlement comes in the midst of a tough re-election fight for Morris, whose opponent came within 71 votes of unseating him in 2014.

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s 2015 complaint alleges that lax oversight by Morris and others allowed investor Aubrey Lee Price to swindle the defunct Montgomery Bank & Trust of $14.7 million. Papers filed Tuesday in federal court state Morris and other board members have “agreed to the form” of a written settlement with the FDIC. The deal could be sealed by June 3.

    Rep. Ed Rynders (HD 152)

    Rep. Ed Rynders (HD 152)

     

    Ed Rynders has chaired two House committees, but what the donors really like is his leadership role on Health and Human Services. He’s been the panel’s vice chair or secretary since 2005.

    Donors in the health-care sector have responded, giving his campaign more than $240,000 — more than 40 percent of all his financial support.

    Chief among them: Phoebe Putney Health System and Hospital Corporation of America (more than $33,000 combined), which owned the competing hospital that Phoebe Putney bought in 2011; and Georgia chiropractors ($28,000-plus).

    let the records reflect

    House banking chair settles FDIC complaint

    House banking chair settles FDIC complaint

    June 9, 2016 — House Banking Chairman Greg Morris has settled a federal complaint over his role in the 2012 failure of a south Georgia bank.

    Morris and other board members of the defunct Montgomery Bank & Trust, through their attorneys, filed court papers June 3 acknowledging that the settlement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was completed.

    Stephens ‘wanted to be honest,’ agrees to ethics fine

    Stephens 'wanted to be honest,' agrees to ethics fine

    May 27, 2016 — Rep. Ron Stephens has agreed to pay a modest fine for failing to list ownership of four businesses on his financial disclosures.

    In January, Stephens amended his disclosures for 2012 through 2014 to add four companies to the businesses in which he owned an interest. The Garden City Republican said he knew the new filing might lead to a complaint “but I wanted to be honest. … I didn’t want to keep anything hidden.”

    atlanta mainstream

    Bada Bing! Speaker Ralston late to disclose $236K in donations

    Bada Bing! Speaker Ralston late to disclose $236K in donations

    May 23, 2016 — A few years back, House Speaker David Ralston backed a move toward greater transparency in Georgia politics. His ethics bill, which took effect in 2014, requires quicker disclosure of lawmakers’ fund-raising before each year’s legislative session.

    So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that Ralston failed to report nearly a quarter-million dollars in campaign contributions collected before legislators showed up for work under the Gold Dome in 2016.

    UPDATE: The report of those contributions, along with more recent filings, appear to contain $13,000 in donations that exceed the legal limit.

    Balfour indicted for $2,700 in false expense claims

    Balfour indicted for $2,700 in false expense claims

    Sept. 27, 2013 — Sen. Don Balfour was indicted today, based largely on Atlanta Unfiltered’s February 2012 report on sketchy entries in his expense account, for claiming per diem and mileage that he wasn’t entitled to.