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Sen. Charlie Bethel (SD 54)
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Charles Jones Bethel (R-Dalton)
District 54 (Whitfield, Murray, Gordon & Pickens counties)
The insurance industry, led by BlueCross BlueShield, has chipped in more than $29,000 to Bethel’s campaign fund since he became Senate Finance chair in 2015, and more than $50,000 since 2010.
Bethel was one of about a dozen freshmen whose votes were sought in late 2010 by Senate leaders who took control of that chamber from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; the freshmen’s votes may have been decisive. Bethel was an early supporter of Cagle’s bid for governor, but switched to Nathan Deal in 2009 after Cagle backed out of the race.
- Served 2006-10 as a member of the Dalton City Council.
- Elected to an open seat in the Senate in 2010 after winning the Republican primary with 58% of the vote.
- Re-elected in 2012 and 2014 without opposition.
- Won his 2016 Republican primary, 75-25%.
- Appropriations (2015 – present)
- Insurance and Labor (2011 – present; chair, 2015 – present)
- Judiciary (2011 – present)
- Judiciary Non-Civil (2013 – present)
- Reapportionment (2011 – present; chair, Oct. 2011 – 2012)
- Government Oversight (2013 – 2014)
- Retirement (2011 – 2012)
- Special Judiciary (2011 – 2012)
- Director of corporate affairs at carpet manufacturer J&J Industries Inc.
Business ownership interests
- Shareholder, J&J Industries.
- Investor, Hardball Chattanooga LLC, professional baseball.
- Partner, South Creek Properties LLP (real estate; owns 10 acres valued at $2.1 million at 622 S. Thornton Ave., Dalton)
- Partner, Bethel Holding Co. (family farming; owns 1,175 acres valued at $2.97 million in Whitfield County)
- Partner, MXM Properties Inc., real estate venture, owner of an industrial building in Dalton valued at $1.29 million.
- Board member, Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership, non-profit.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Dalton valued at $249,000
- Bank of America Corp.
- Coca-Cola Co.
- Dominion Resources Inc.
- Exxon Mobil Corp.
- General Electric Co.
- IBM Corp.
- Intel Corp.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Proctor & Gamble Co.
- Royal Dutch Shell PLC
- Southern Co.
- bonds issued by Atlanta; Bleckley, Coweta, Fulton and Lowndes counties; and the Georgia Municipal Electric Authority
- numerous investment funds
Business transactions with state government
- None disclosed.
Friends & family
- Bethel’s father, James, is retired CEO of J&J Industries; his grandfather, Tom Jones, was co-founder of the company. Jones served on the Dalton Board of Education for 28 years.
- James R. Jolly, J&J’s former chairman and CEO, served 2003-11 on the State Board of Regents following his appointment by Gov. Sonny Perdue. J&J, which won Georgia Trend magazine’s Family Business Award in 2009, provided carpets for Nathan Deal’s 2011 inauguration as governor.
Donors have given Bethel’s campaign more than $307,000 since 2010. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2010: $57,053
- 2011-12: $63,725
- 2013-14: $78,154
- 2015-16: $108,125
- Reported cash on hand (April 2016): $201,491
- $23,950 Sen. Tommie Williams and other Republican legislators
- $7,000 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $6,500 BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia
- $5,000 Georgia Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors
- $4,700 Georgia Health Care Association, nursing homes
- $4,500 The Doctors Co. (DOCPAC), malpractice insurance
- $4,400 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $4,350 Georgia Dental Association
- $4,000 John Deere Co.
- $3,750 AT&T
- $3,750 Georgia Pharmacy Association
- $3,750 Troutman Sanders LLP, lobbying firm
Candidates may give campaign funds to other candidates, a practice that some say provides a legal means to circumvent contribution limits. A 2003 bill to ban such transfers altogether passed in the Senate but died in the House. Bethel’s campaign made these donations:
- 2011-12: $7,300
- 2013-14: $31,050
Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Bethel valued at more than $5,700 since 2010. The big spenders: Georgia Association of Manufacturers ($656), Medical Association of Georgia ($571), Georgia Power Co. ($349).
- 2010: $94
- 2011: $1,648
- 2012: $886
- 2013: $480
- 2014: $1,442
- 2015: $930
- 2016: $427 through April 30
Committee days & travel expenses
When out of session, legislators may collect $173 per diem, plus mileage, for committee meetings or 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. Here’s the annual breakdown:
- 2011: $2,139 (9 days)
- 2012: $0
- 2013: $173 (1 day)
- 2014: $0
- 2015: $2,730 (13 days)
Posted Dec. 26, 2011; updated May 15, 2016
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