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Rep. Kevin Cooke (HD 18)
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Kevin Chad Cooke (R-Carrollton)
District 18 (Carroll and Haralson counties)
A licensed real estate appraiser, Cooke’s top donors are executives with Chick-fil-a and East West Express Inc., a trucking company. Other donors include his employer, family members and Carrollton businessman Steve Adams.
Billing himself as a strict constitutionalist and advocate of states’ rights, Cooke in his first term co-sponsored a resolution calling for repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave voters rather than state legislatures the power to select members of the U.S. Senate. A second bill that he co-sponsored would create a state agency to find ways to challenge federal laws and regulations in court, including air-quality standards and “intervention” in the mining, timber and agricultural industries.
The American Legislative Exchange Council awarded a $212 “scholarship” to Cooke in 2011, records show. Corporate donors — including petroleum, pharmaceutical, utility, tobacco and health-care interests — funded the scholarships, which were meant to cover the costs of airfare and lodging to attend ALEC functions. The donations generally are not disclosed as lobbyist gifts, since ALEC does not have a registered lobbyist in Georgia.
- Collected 44% of the vote in an unsuccessful 2008 challenge to Rep. Mark Butler.
- Elected with 53% of the 2010 primary vote to win the open seat that Butler left to run for labor commissioner
- Re-elected with 71% of the vote in 2012 and 74% in 2014. Unchallenged in 2016.
- Agriculture & Consumer Affairs (2015 – present)
- Appropriations (2015 – present)
- Interstate Cooperation (2011 – present)
- Reapportionment (2013 – present)
- Regulated Industries (2011 – present)
- State Planning & Community Affairs (2013 – present)
- Public Safety and Homeland Security (2011 – 2014)
- Real estate appraiser, Duffey Appraisals Inc.
Business ownership interests
- Owner, Cooke Family Farms.
- Treasurer, BringLeadershipBack PAC, founded to encourage former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to rejoin the 2016 presidential race.
- None disclosed.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Carrollton valued at $253,000.
- Landlocked 43-acre tract in Carrollton valued at $36,000.
- 23 acres of farmland valued at $68,000.
- Four half-acre tracts in Bear Creek Estates valued at a total of $30,000.
- Undeveloped 28-acre tract valued at $4,500.
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Cooke has raised more than $125,000 in political donations since 2007. He also put $4,331 of his own money into his first campaign. Contributions broken down by election cycle:
- 2007-08: $23,231
- 2009-10: $23,619
- 2011-12: $41,638
- 2013-14: $26,574
- 2015-16: $10,600
- Reported cash on hand (July 2016): $5,947
- $23,314 House Speaker David Ralston & other Republican lawmakers
- $18,674 Steve Hester, senior director for distribution at Chick-fil-a, and family members
- $9,400 Larry & Cherie Rogers, safety director at East West Express Inc. (trucking)
- $3,500 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $3,000 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association
- $2,950 Duffey Appraisals Inc., Cooke’s employer
- $2,800 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $2,700 Rick Tillman, optometrist
- $2,650 Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA
- $2,500 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
- $2,250 Cliff and Ann-Margret Perkins, Carrollton, Ga., attorneys
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. Cooke’s committee made these donations:
- 2009-10: $1,000
- 2011-12: $9,750
- 2013-14: $9,550
- 2015-16: $1,500
Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Cooke valued at more than $3,100 since 2010. The big spenders:
- $593 Georgia Power Co.
- $248 The Hudson Group, lobbyist
- $200 Georgia Optometric Association
- $199 W.L. Clifton Political Consulting, lobbyist
Committee days & travel expenses
When out of session, legislators may collect $173 per day plus mileage for committee meetings or other official business. (Per diem was $127 until 2007.) Those living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging.
- 2011: $1,229 (6 days)
- 2012: $2,583 (12 days)
- 2013: $3,490 (16 days)
- 2014: $2,428 (11 days)
- 2015: $4,718 (20 days)
Posted Sept. 28, 2012; updated July 6, 2016