Who’s got the phattest crib in the GA Legislature?
Well, it’s probably a Republican, since they’re the ones whose campaigns are rolling in dough these days. But the phattest? That’s in the eye of the beholder, and Atlanta Unfiltered works only in cold, hard facts.
We can tell you who’s spent what from campaign money for a crib during the 2010 legislative session, though.
Many lawmakers from out of town rent a place to stay in Atlanta for the session. The state pays each $173 per day to cover the cost of meals and lodging, or $6,920 for the 40-day session, not counting committee meetings on “off-days.”
A number of them instead use campaign contributions — which come primarily from special interests and their lobbyists — to pay the rent. Lawmakers can’t convert campaign donations directly to their personal use, but they can spend them on lodging and then pocket the per-diem payments if they wish.
Georgia’s Ethics in Government allows candidates to spend campaign contributions on the “ordinary and necessary expenses” of holding office, which specifically includes lodging. Some lawmakers also use the money to pay for rent and other office expenses during the legislative session.
Quarterly campaign reports filed last week show these expenditures for lodging:
Sen. Don Balfour (right) of Snellville didn’t break out the monthly rent, but he’s spent $7,750 so far this year on “session apartment rental.” If that’s for January through March, he’s paying nearly $2,600 a month. He paid the same gentleman $1,200 in December for “condo rental” and $9,170 last May in connection with a house rental.
Rep. Richard Smith of Columbus paid an average of $2,373 a month to rent a unit at Post Renaissance Apartments in Marietta. He also paid $288 in January for “residence set-up.”
Rep. Jerry Keen of St. Simons Island, $1,900 a month. Since October, Keen has also spent nearly $4,500 on “furnishings for official lodging.” That included $2,291 to West Elm, a brand of Williams-Sonoma; $1,116 to New Avenues, a lease-to-own outlet based in Alpharetta; $640 to Pier One Imports; $307 to Bed, Bath & Beyond; and $103 to Crate & Barrel.
Sen. Tommie Williams of Lyons paid an average of $1,897 in January and February to rent an apartment. Nothing reported for March.
Rep. Jan Jones of Alpharetta, $1,550 a month.
Sen. Greg Goggans of Douglas, $1,500 a month.
Rep. Jeff May of Monroe, $1,500 a month.
Rep. Donna Sheldon of Dacula, $1,250 at the Landmark Condos on Piedmont Avenue.
Sen. Preston Smith of Rome, $1,250 a month at Post Properties on Northside Parkway.
Rep. Bob Hanner of Parrott, average of $1,130 a month at Post Renaissance.
Sen. Mitch Seabaugh of Sharpsburg, $1,100 a month.
Rep. Chuck Martin of Alpharetta, $950 a month.
Rep. Tom McCall of Elberton $850 a month.
Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, $700 in January, but nothing spent on an apartment since then.
Sen. Ronnie Chance of Tyrone, $550 a month.
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