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    Rep. Kevin Cooke

     

    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:

    Kevin Chad Cooke (R-Carrollton)

    District 18 (Carroll and Haralson counties)

    Legislative website

    Campaign website

    Voting record

    Born: 1980

    Overview

    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.

    Political career

    • Collected 44 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful 2008 challenge to incumbent Rep. Mark Butler
    • Elected with 53 percent of the 2010 primary vote to win the open seat that Butler left to run for labor commissioner
    • Re-elected 2012 with 71 percent of the vote.

    Committee assignments

    • Interstate Cooperation (2011 – present)
    • Public Safety and Homeland Security (2011 – present)
    • Reapportionment (2013 – )
    • Regulated Industries (2011 – present)
    • State Planning & Community Affairs (2013 – )

    Occupation

    • Real estate appraiser, Duffey Appraisals Inc.

    Business ownership interests

    •  None disclosed

    Fiduciary positions

    • None disclosed

    Investment interests

    • None disclosed

    Real estate holdings

    • Personal residence in Carrollton valued at $111,000
    • Residential property with 42 acres in Carrollton valued at $100,000

    Payments from state agencies

    •  None disclosed

    Campaign contributions

    Cheokas has raised more than $89,000 in political donations since 2008. Contributions broken down by election cycle:

    • 2007-08: $24,913
    • 2009-10: $26,267
    • 2011-12: $41,637

    Top donors

    • $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)
    • $2,950 Duffey Appraisals Inc., Cooke’s employer
    • $2,500 Georgia House Republican Trust
    • $2,500 House Speaker David Ralston
    • $2,250 Perkins Law Firm and associated attorneys
    • $2,200 Rick Tillman, optometrist
    • $2,000 Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones
    • $1,900 Steve Penley, self-employed artist
    • $1,900 Georgia Dental Association

    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. Cooke’s committee made these political donations:

    • 2007-08:$0
    • 2009-10: $1,000
    • 2011-12: $9,750

    Lobbyist gifts (reported value)

    Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Cooke valued at more than $2,100 since 2010. The big spender so far: Georgia Power Co. ($544). The breakout by year:

    • 2010: $72
    • 2011: $1,125
    • 2012: $1,032
    • 2013: $436 through April 30

    Committee days & travel expenses

    When the Legislature is out of session, members 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, based on the year in which the expenses were paid:

    • 2011: $1,229 (6 days)
    • 2012: $2,583 (12 days)
    • 2013: $798 (4 days through April 25)

    Posted Sept. 28, 2012; last updated May 26, 2013

     

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