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Lawyer: Rogers’ reimbursement OK, but he repays campaign anyway
By JIM WALLS
Sept. 26, 2012 — Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has reimbursed his campaign $8,500 even though his lawyer says he didn’t have to.
The payment covers more than $8,100 that Rogers collected from his Senate expense account for costs that appeared to have been paid by his campaign committee. Atlanta Unfiltered first reported the reimbursements last week.
Senate records show Rogers collected $6,688 in expense reimbursements this year and $1,471 in 2003 and 2005 for newspaper inserts and mailings to constituents. The vendors, dates and amounts on invoices submitted to the Legislative Fiscal Office are virtually identical to payments reported by Friends for Chip Rogers, the senator’s campaign committee.
Doug Chalmers, an attorney representing Rogers, said the reimbursements were legitimate because the campaign owed him much more. Financial disclosures show Rogers loaned the committee more than $95,000 in 2004; in July, the committee said it still owed him $40,582.
“It was perfectly legitimate for him to make the reimbursement request,” Chalmers said. “He fronted tens of thousands of dollars over time to his campaign, so he effectively did personally pay for the mailing.”
Rogers has written an $8,500 check to his campaign committee “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Chalmers said. He said the payment will be reported on Rogers’ Sept. 30 campaign disclosure.
Rogers’ Senate office has not responded to requests for copies of the mailings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Atlanta Unfiltered’s Sept. 19 report has been mangled in the retelling by other media, so perhaps we should summarize: The article never described the reimbursements as improper or wrong and never used the term double-dipping. It never questioned whether the mailings in question were a legitimate use of public funds. It never made “allegations” from which Rogers could be considered to be “under fire.”
It never even said that the reimbursements and the campaign payments were for the same expense. I tried to get Rogers’ office to confirm that they were. I chatted briefly with Rogers’ Senate and campaign staff, but they did not respond to the half-dozen voicemail, e-mail and text messages I sent them over the next four or five days to follow up.
Here’s what the article did say: It reported that Rogers, when he requested the reimbursements, submitted signed statements that he had personally incurred those expenses. It reported that campaign disclosures indicated that the campaign committee, not Rogers, had paid those expenses. And it noted that legislators are not supposed to request reimbursement for expenses that their campaigns have paid.