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    Ex-speaker signs consent order over $220K fund transfer

     

    By JIM WALLS

    Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson has signed a consent order over his apparently unauthorized transfer of nearly $220,000 in campaign funds to a political committee under his control.

    The State Ethics Commission will decide whether to sign off on the consent agreement when it meets Tuesday, according to an agenda posted on the agency’s Web site.

    Richardson, who resigned in December after revelations about his relationship with a female lobbyist, transferred $219,915 from his re-election account to the MMV Alliance Fund on his last day in office. A day earlier, he filed papers naming himself as the new chairman of MMV, a political action committee that had been run by various aides during his five years as speaker.

    State law allows candidates to give unused campaign money to IRS-recognized charities; educational, philanthropic and non-profit organizations; other candidates; or political parties. At the time, MMV was none of those things.

    Political action committees, on the other hand, have virtually no limits no how they may spend their money. Rick Thompson, the ethics commission’s former executive secretary, has said PACs are not required to disclose their spending for non-political purposes.

    “He could spend it on anything he wants to,” Thompson told Atlanta Unfiltered in January. “If he wanted to pay his rent or buy an automobile through the MMV PAC fund, there’s no restrictions on what he can do … under the Ethics in Government Act.”

    Robert Highsmith, an attorney and former member of the ethics commission, filed papers on MMV’s behalf in February to register the fund as a non-profit organization.

    Terms of MMV’s consent order have not been released. It is unclear whether the agreement would require MMV to pay a fine or return any of the money to Richardson’s campaign account.

    MMV has filed no campaign finance disclosures since December. Former state Sen. Eric Johnson reported receiving a $1,000 donation on March 31 for his gubernatorial campaign.

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