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Ethics panel dismisses complaint over Cagle’s alleged affair
By JIM WALLS
Allegations that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle overpaid a campaign aide with whom he was having an affair were dropped today by the State Campaign Finance Commission.
The commission ruled there was no evidence to support a claim that Cagle paid Elizabeth Dewberry an excessive amount as his campaign manager and finance director in 2006. Complainant Ray Boyd charged that Cagle paid her more than the market rate because of their alleged personal relationship.
Boyd, who supported Cagle’s Democratic opponent last year, filed the complaint and distributed it to the news media just days before the 2010 general election.
Appearing before the commission today, Cagle’s attorney emphasized Boyd’s statements at that time that his complaint was based on persistent rumors that he had not substantiated.
“This was an attempt to make an election go a different way – nothing more than that,” attorney Ann Lewis said.
State law is silent on how much campaign staffers may be paid. Regardless, the commission’s staff concluded Dewberry’s compensation was in line with that paid by other campaigns.
Dewberry earned $85,000 in salary, commission and bonuses in 2006, Cagle’s campaign disclosures show. She was paid nearly $60,000 in 2007 and $40,000 in 2008 before leaving for another job.
The commission dismissed the complaint on a 3-0 vote. Members Kevin Abernethy and Hillary Stringfellow recused themselves.
Cagle’s attorney, Ann Lewis, asked that the commission assess legal fees against Boyd, which is now permissible when a complaint is deemed frivolous. The commission declined, but Chairman Patrick Millsaps said the panel easily could have done so because the case was a “clear abuse” of the complaint process.
“Please understand that [the commission] is not The View, we are not Entertainment Tonight, we are not TMZ, we are not a blog of Hollywood affairs,” he said. “[This case] is something that this commission does not have the time, does not have the budget, does not have the resources and does not have the patience to consider.”