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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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  • Loophole C: Credit card omissions just fine, Deal case shows

    Nov. 19, 2015 — Three years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign admitted that an American Express payment didn’t add up because it included a top aide’s personal expenses. The aide reimbursed the $1,185, a campaign lawyer said.

    But what about the $69,000 in unexplained spending in 158 other credit card payments by Deal’s campaigns? Did they include personal expenses? No one’s saying.

    Since 1998, a review of Deal’s disclosures show, virtually every credit card bill paid by his state and federal campaigns has omitted the details of some purchases.

    Loophole B: 14 lawmakers’ undisclosed business with state

    Nov. 6, 2015 — Georgia’s disclosure laws for legislators who do business with the state, as we reported Wednesday, are a mess. It’s unclear what transactions should be reported and which of two disclosure forms should be used. Digging through data on state vendors, I came up with payments to 14 legislators’ businesses that weren’t reported on one form or the other, sometimes both. The lawyers can sort out whether the law required disclosure. I was more interested in the transparency than the legality of these types of transactions.

    transparency project

    ALEC scholarship recipients, 2004-2012

    The following legislators received about $350,000 in travel reimbursements from the American Legislative Exchange Council that have not been disclosed under Georgia’s lobbyist disclosure law, documents obtained by Atlanta Unfiltered show. Most donors to the reimbursement fund are corporations with registered lobbyists in Georgia.


    • $21,686 Ex-Rep. Calvin Hill
    • $19,328 Sen. Judson Hill
    • $17,363 Rep. Tom Rice


    Sen. Jesse Stone: What’ll it be, judge or senator?

    Sen. Jesse Stone: What'll it be, judge or senator?

    Jesse Stone is a candidate for both the Senate and a Burke County judgeship — a quandary that’s raised questions as to how open he was with constituents when he qualified for re-election. In early March, Stone qualified for re-election to the Senate and denied reports that he was seeking appointment to a State Court vacancy. Later, just hours after qualifying for the Senate closed, Stone announced he’d decided to seek the judgeship after all. He remained ambivalent about whether he’d accept the judicial post until recently stating, after it became a campaign issue, that he’d withdraw his name from consideration if re-elected to the Legislature. (UPDATE: Stone withdrew his name from consideration for the Burke County State Court judgeship a week after winning re-election.)

    Senate candidate Diane Evans: Unpaid late fees

    Senate candidate Diane Evans: Unpaid late fees

    Diane Evans owes $500 in late filing fees as of October 2014, according to the state ethics commission’s website. The commission does not routinely notify candidates that they owe late fees.

    Senate candidate Bikram Mohanty: Undisclosed business property

    Senate candidate Bikram Mohanty: Undisclosed business property

    The information on Atlanta Unfiltered is free to all — except me. Open records requests, research tools, car expenses, insurance, website maintenance – not to mention my time — all cost me money. Atlanta Unfiltered needs your financial support to continue following the money in Georgia politics. Someone’s gotta do it. Use the Donate button […]

    let the records reflect

    One ‘yes or no’ lifts GA’s ethics ranking to 24th

    Information on Atlanta Unfiltered is free to all — except me. To help me continue following the money in Georgia politics, please use the Donate button on this page. By JIM WALLS Nov. 10, 2015 — Much of Georgia’s remarkable upgrade in ethics rankings – from 50th in the nation in 2012 to 24th today […]

    Oxendine campaign “invested” $237K in his law firm

    Oxendine campaign "invested" $237K in his law firm

    Nov. 9, 2015 — Former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine took a novel approach to investing his campaign funds, new disclosures show: loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to his private business — much of it just weeks before Oxendine bought a $965,000 house in north Fulton County.

    State law allows campaigns to make investments but forbids candidates from using political donations as personal assets.

    atlanta mainstream

    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.

    Fox5: Ethics lawyer sees politics in Handel probe

    Over at Fox 5, Dale Russell reported Wednesday night on an allegation that politics is behind a push to reopen an ethics investigation of U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel. The state ethics commission settled three complaints against Handel in April with dismissals and her payment of a $75 late filing fee. Now, Russell reports, ethics […]