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    Rep. Rashad Taylor: Unpaid taxes, missing disclosures

     

    Leaders in the public sector have plenty of public resources to promote their political views, accomplishments and experience. Often the public record holds much more: personal and campaign finance disclosures, expense reports, and business, tax and court filings. Here’s what they show:

    Rashad J. Taylor (D-Atlanta)

    District 55 (Fulton County)

    Voting record

    Overview: Taylor has stayed busy running other candidate’s campaigns, but he’s cut a few corners in running his own. Seven times from 2008 through 2012, Taylor did not disclose his campaign finances, failing to report at least $15,650 in political contributions, an analysis of donors’ disclosures shows. He turned in 10 other disclosures late by several months or more. In 2011, he said he planned to catch up with disclosures of his campaign finances by the end of the year.

    “There’s really no excuse for not having filed my disclosures that are missing,” Taylor said in an interview. “I just haven’t gotten it done.”

    He never really did. Taylor still hasn’t filed three disclosures from his contested 2010 campaign and three more from 2012. He also did not file personal financial disclosures for 2009 and 2010 until November 2011, shortly after the Transparency Project asked him about them. That was the first time he officially disclosed ownership of a political consulting firm formed in 2009. Taylor also never filed the disclosure required in May 2008 when he first ran for the House; he said he didn’t know he had to.

    By Taylor’s estimate, the House Democratic Caucus spent about $25,000 – far in excess of the $2,400 limit on contributions to legislative candidates — to help him win the 2010 Democratic primary. Party officials argued the expenditure was appropriate because the caucus was part of the Democratic Party, which is exempt from spending limits in some circumstances. The Georgia Campaign Finance Commission issued an advisory opinion in March 2011 that, under Georgia law, the caucus is not part of the party and therefore is not exempt from the contribution limits.

    Political career

    • Elected to the House in 2008, replacing Rep. Able Mable Thomas, who ran for Congress instead.
    • Re-elected in 2010, winning 56 percent of the primary vote to fend off Thomas’s bid to regain her seat.
    • Lost to fellow Rep. Pat Gardner, 63-37 percent, when both were placed in the same district.
    • Elected vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in November 2010.
    • Formerly interned for U.S. Rep. John Lewis and worked in the campaign of former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland.

    Committee assignments

    • Education (2009 – 2012)
    • MARTA Oversight (2009 – 2010)
    • Regulated Industries (2009 – 2012)
    • Ways & Means (2009 – 2012)

    Occupation

    Political consultant. Political director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, 2007-09; legislative coordinator, Planned Parenthood of Georgia, 2007. Served as deputy campaign manager for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in 2009 and as campaign manager for Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, former Atlanta Board of Education chairman Khaatim S. El and Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.

    In 2011, he ran the campaign of Baltimore mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh. Maryland campaign finance records show she paid Taylor or his consulting firm more than $121,000 for salary and campaign expenses.

    Taylor registered as a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood in 2007. He filed lobbyist expenditure disclosures that year for January and February (reporting no spending), but not the nine other reports due that year.

    Ethics cases

    As of February 2013, Taylor owed $1,000 for 11 disclosures that were filed late or not at all.

    Taxes

    The Georgia Department of Revenue placed liens totaling $3,161 on Taylor for unpaid income taxes for 2008 and 2009. As of February 2013, no paperwork had been filed with the clerk of Fulton County Superior Court to indicate the liens had been satisfied.

    Business ownership:

    • DISCLOSED RETROACTIVELY: Five Eleven LLC, political consulting firm. (The company did not file its annual registration with the Georgia Secretary of State for 2011.) 

    Fiduciary positions

    • None disclosed

    Investments

    • None disclosed

    Real estate holdings

    • None disclosed

    Business transactions with state government

    • None disclosed

    Friends & family

    • Tharon Johnson, Taylor’s campaign chairman, also ran Kasim Reed’s 2009 campaign for mayor of Atlanta and served as 2012 Southern regional director of Obama for America. Johnson was a registered lobbyist for the city of Atlanta in 2010 and the Georgia Food Industry Association, promoting local referenda on Sunday alcohol sales, in 2011.

    Campaign contributions

    Taylor has reported collecting more than $95,000 since 2008, and donors have reported giving him $15,650 that he has not disclosed. The breakdown by election cycle:

    • 2008: $36,977
    • 2009-10: $33,251
    • 2011-12: $40,625

    Top donors

    • $12,975 Sen. Vincent Fort & other Democratic legislators
    • $5,400 International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    • $4,900 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
    • $4,400 Georgia Association of Educators & other teachers’ associations
    • $2,500 Khaatim Sherrer El, former Atlanta Board of Education chairman
    • $2,400 Georgia Association of Realtors
    • $2,350 Planned Parenthood & executives Ikeita Hinojosa & Kay Scott
    • $2,300 Aycox and Aycox Inc., title pawn lender
    • $2,000 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
    • $1,750 Holland & Knight

    Campaign spending

    Taylor loaned his campaign $10,500 in 2008. It has reported paying him back $3,750.

    Campaign-to-campaign donations

    Candidates may make political donations with campaign funds, allowing prolific fund-raisers to share their contributions with other legislators or candidates. Some advocacy groups believe such transfers should be limited to an aggregate of $10,000 per election cycle. Taylor’s committee made these political donations:

    • 2008: $0
    • 2009-10: $525
    • 2011-12: $0

    Lobbyist gifts

    Lobbyists reported paying for meals and other gifts for Taylor valued at more than $14,000 since 2009. The big spender: the Georgia World Congress Center Authority ($1,124).

    • 2009: $844
    • 2010: $851
    • 2011: $879
    • 2012: $276

    Committee days & travel expenses

    When the Legislature is out of session, members may collect $173 per diem plus mileage ($128 until 2007) for attending a committee meeting or conducting other official business. Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, which were originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging.

    • 2009: $2,955 (17 days)
    • 2010: $1,737 (10 days)
    • 2011: $2,085 (12 days)
    • 2012: $1,564 (9 days)

    Updated Feb. 9, 2013

    ———————-

    Public records tip: Even if a candidate has failed to file campaign disclosures, a search tool on the state Campaign Finance Commission’s website allows you to track down some of his or her donors. You do that by checking expenditures of other candidates and registered political action committees that must file their own disclosures.

    It’s a simple process: Using the commission’s Search by Expenditure form, enter the candidate’s name in the Individual or Entity box and click Search.

    The results should include all donations to that candidate since 2006 by PACs and other candidates. The contributions can then be downloaded into a spreadsheet for sorting and comparison to the donations that the candidate has disclosed. The results will not include donations from individuals or groups that are not registered as PACs.

     

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