Ex-speaker to settle condo ethics charge for $2,900
Former Georgia House speaker Terry Coleman has tentatively settled — for $2,900 — an ethics complaint that he used campaign money to make payments on a condo.
Beginning in 1997, Coleman made monthly payments from campaign funds on a downtown condominium purchased by Nameloc Corp., a company he controls. Nameloc reimbursed the campaign for $38,120 in 2002, after the payments had been disclosed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and shortly before Coleman sought and won the speaker’s post.
At the time, a number of legislators had been using campaign money to make mortgage, rental or maintenance payments on housing in the Atlanta area. The State Ethics Commission ruled in 2004 that legislators — who then collected about $128 per day in state funds for expenses while on state business — should use that money for lodging, not campaign cash.
The Ethics Commission, which next meets Oct. 15, still must approve the settlement with Coleman. The former speaker on Friday confirmed the amount of the settlement as about $2,900: “Something like that.”
“My lawyer called and said they had come up with some sort of settlement,” Coleman said. “I wrote the check.”
In the 2004 case, the commission fined House Majority Leader Jimmy Skipper $2,000 for spending more than $18,000 in campaign funds to rent an apartment in Atlanta.
Ethics gadfly George Anderson filed three complaints against Coleman in 2001 and 2002 alleging misuse of campaign funds — including the condo payments — and omissions of required information on campaign and personal finance reports. The complaints also questioned campaign payments of $1,060 a month for a sport utility vehicle.
Nameloc bought the Piedmont Avenue condo in 1997 for about $80,000. Property records show the company sold it in 2006 for $160,000.