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Missouri developer’s PAC made $123,000 in political donations with no disclosure
By JIM WALLS
May 4, 2009 — A Georgia-based political action committee gave $123,000 in political donations in the 2008 election cycle without reporting them, Atlanta Unfiltered has learned.
The PAC is funded primarily by a Missouri developer, Jeffrey E. Smith (right), whose companies receive state and federal tax credits to build low-income housing in Georgia. One of the companies claimed on its Web site that it helped revise Georgia law in 2001 to make the program “more accessible to developers and investors alike.”
The committee, registered as the Fund for Georgia’s Future, failed to report at least $73,000 in political donations in Georgia in 2007 and 2008, according to disclosure reports filed by the candidates receiving the money. Nor did it disclose a gift of $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association in 2007 while Gov. Sonny Perdue chaired that organization.
On Thursday, the committee filed five reports listing about $62,000 of those contributions, shortly after Atlanta Unfiltered called the fund’s chairman to ask why the donations had not been disclosed. Those reports were filed four to 13 months after statutory deadlines.
The donations were divided among Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP leadership of the Georgia House and Senate, House Minority Leader Dubose Porter and the chairmen and vice chairmen of Appropriations Committees in both chambers.
The new disclosures did not include an additional $11,000 that Georgia candidates reported receiving from the committee, including $2,500 to House Speaker Glenn Richardson, or the donation to the governors assocation.
Failure to report political contributions is punishable in Georgia by a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation. Last year, the State Ethics Commission fined the Georgia Association of Realtors $80,000 for failing to report more than a half-million dollars in donations.
Lobbyist Jay Morgan (left), who is chairman and secretary of the Fund for Georgia’s Future, had little to say about the missing reports in a telephone interview last week. He told a reporter he would check his financial records and later sent an e-mail noting that the 2008 reports had just been filed.
Morgan registered as a lobbyist for Affordable Equity Partners, a company run by Smith that buys and sells the tax credits, in February 2008. A former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, Morgan runs a lobbying firm with about 20 other clients.
Georgia law was amended in 2001 to reduce the risk that the state would try to take back the tax credit. Since then, housing projects in Georgia have been awarded $237 million in state and federal tax credits, according to an online database of the grants.
Capital Health Management, another of Lewis’ companies, provided the bulk of the money for the Fund for Georgia’s Future — $140,000. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported April 26 that Capital Health Management had funded 10 political action committees to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians in Missouri.