Departing lawmakers have $1.3M in campaign cash to burn
Thanks to House Speaker David Ralston, departing Georgia lawmakers have more than $1.3 million in campaign cash to distribute as they see fit this year.
House Bill 920, if it had passed, would have required that those lawmakers pass the money on to charity, or return it to the original donors. The measure, which had attracted broad bi-partisan support with 41 co-sponsors, went nowhere once the speaker introduced his own ethics bill in March.
Ralston, in an interview, said his bill omitted campaign finance reform because it “was not part of that problem” that forced ex-speaker Glenn Richardson to resign late last year. Richardson stepped down shortly after his ex-wife accused him of having a fling with a lobbyist and threatening to use state troopers to harass her.
So, members leaving the General Assembly in 2010 may continue to pass their unused campaign donations on to political parties, political action committees or, within contribution limits, other candidates for office.
Or, as Richardson did with his last $220,000, they may transfer it to a political action committee under their control. Georgia law places few restrictions on how PACs spend their money.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill last week to allow citizens to donate money to the state treasury over and above the taxes they owe. Wonder how many retiring legislators will follow through on that with their campaign funds?
As qualifying closed Friday, 13 members of the state Senate and 27 in the House chose not to seek re-election. About half are running for higher office.
Between them, their legislative campaigns reported $1,343,107 cash on hand as of March 31. Those who are seeking other offices may not transfer it to their new campaigns.
The bulk of the excess cash — $1.05 million — sits in the accounts of 11 lawmakers who had $50,000 or more in the bank. Most accumulated sizable campaign treasuries by virtue of their power as committee chairmen or their positions in House or Senate leadership.
Their campaign balances as of March 31 are as follows.
- $168,224 David Adelman (resigned to become ambassador to Singapore)
- $134,861 Don Thomas, Health and Human Services chairman
- $108,780 Chip Pearson, Economic Development chairman
- $101,879 Preston Smith, Judiciary chairman
- $50,018 John Douglas, Veterans chairman
- $37,942 Seth Harp, Higher Education chairman
- $21,247 Dan Weber, Education chairman
- $13,462 Lee Hawkins
- $4,403 J.B. Powell
- $2,022 Dan Moody, Ethics chairman
- $1,299 Jeff Chapman
- $434 Ralph Hudgens, Insurance chairman
- $0 Gail Buckner
House of Representatives
- $96,328 Austin Scott (includes $87,550 raised for the governor’s face before he decided to run for Congress instead)
- $92,719 Mike Coan, Industrial Relations chairman
- $90,537 Tom Knox, former Insurance chairman
- $84,250 Jerry Keen, majority leader
- $72,102 Mark Burkhalter, former speaker pro tem
- $51,225 DuBose Porter, minority leader
- $39,868 Jeff May, majority caucus vice chairman
- $26,707 Jim Cole, governor’s floor leader
- $22,740 John Lunsford, Small Business Development chairman
- $20,142 Bob Lane, Game, Fish & Parks chairman
- $17,932 C. Burke Day, Public Safety chairman
- $14,540 Bob Smith
- $12,568 Georganna Sinkfield
- $12,819 Fran Millar
- $12,147 Mark Butler
- $11,209 Barry Loudermilk
- $6,480 Bobby Reese
- $6,269 Clay Cox
- $4,350 Terry Barnard
- $1,588 Mike Keown
- $1,332 Jay Shaw
- $324 Rob Teilhet
- $262 Randal Mangham
- $98 Melvin Everson
- $0 Tom Graves
- $0 Ron Dodson
- $0 Mike Glanton