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.
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Oct. 20, 2016 — Rep. Joyce Chandler and her husband owe more than a half-million dollars in back income taxes, federal tax collectors say, and the amount appears to be growing.
The IRS in July filed a lien for $519,000 including interest and penalties, just the latest development in a decade-long attempt to collect taxes from the legislator and her husband, Martin.
“It was all my deal. She had nothing to do with it,” Martin Chandler said.
Oct, 20, 2016 — Donna McLeod — a plaintiff in a suit alleging political gerrymandering of local posts in Gwinnett County — says district lines were also redrawn to help her opponent in a state legislative seat.
McLeod is running against Rep. Joyce Chandler, a Republican who’s won two close elections by about 550 and 800 votes. A 2015 redistricting removed a majority-minority precinct where Chandler lost by more than 600 votes the year before and added two precincts where white voters outnumber minorities by more than 3-to-1.
July 21, 2016 — Alan Cole has not disclosed ownership of three limited liability companies that are the actual owners of rental homes that he lists on his personal financial disclosure. They are: Ashwoody Leonard LLC, Fancher LLC and The Harts Mill Barn LLC. Each one lists Cole’s home address as its principal office address in filings with the Georgia secretary of state.
July 21, 2016 — Hanson has reported making about $2,500 in loans to her campaign that — because of specific amounts such as $490.66 and $397.22 — appear instead to be in-kind expenditures. If they are, the campaign should report the purpose and end recipient of the spending, as required by state law.
July 21, 2016 — Matt Gurtler’s most generous campaign donor has plunked down $4,000. But a Washington-based advocacy group for school choice and privatization dropped eight times as much to support Gurtler’s bid for the House. The American Federation for Children reported spending $20,850 on direct mail, media buys and online ads before the May 24 primary and nearly $13,000 more in advance of the July 26 runoff. Those are considered to be “independent” expenditures and thus are not subject to Georgia’s campaign contribution limits.
July 21, 2016 — Kent Woerner has raised $56,000, mostly from local donors, for his race for the seat of retiring Rep. Steve Allison. Woerner also has the support of House Speaker David Ralston from nearby Blue Ridge; he and other House Republicans have chipped in more than $13,000 to the retired educator’s campaign.
July 20, 2016 — FethullahGülen, the exiled cleric accused of fomenting last week’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, is also the man behind three former Fulton County charter schools that lost their taxpayer subsidies a few years back amid findings of financial misconduct.
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.
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.
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.