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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July 20, 2016 — Voters in House District 62 can choose between two runoff candidates with substantial federal tax debts. The IRS last year filed a $32,610 lien against William Boddie for seven years of unpaid taxes dating back to 2006. In February 2016, the Georgia Department of Revenue filed an income tax lien of its own for $15,043.
Boddie, in an interview, said he is taking care of the debts under an approved payment plan and hopes to have it all paid off this year. He blamed the matter on a payroll system at his law firm that was “not quite working.”
July 20, 2016 — Valerie Vie, like her opponent in House District 62, has a significant federal tax debt. The IRS last year filed a $11,554 lien against her for unpaid taxes. Another IRS lien for $4,175 has remained on the books since 2009. Georgia’s Constitution bars tax delinquents from holding state office unless the debt is contested or subject to a payment plan.
Vie also has no personal financial disclosure on file with the state ethics commission. In a brief telephone conversation, Vie said she was unsure why and referred us to her campaign manager, who told us nothing because we couldn’t him. His voicemail box was full and his website’s email was not functioning.
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.