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Rep. Paul Battles (HD 15): Undisclosed land deals
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Paul Richard Battles (R-Cartersville)
District 15 (Bartow County)
Battles’ family business, 208 Investments LLC, sold the DOT an adjoining strip of right of way at the same time for $89,000. Battles disclosed the latter transaction on a state Business Transaction Report but not on his Personal Financial Disclosure for 2011. Both parcels were purchased through condemnation, as is DOT’s practice when elected officials are involved, rather than negotiation.
Battles retired from Crescent Bank of Jasper in 2007 but remained on its board through 2009, as examiners were beginning to sound warnings that the bank needed to tighten lending practices and oversight by its board of directors. State regulators closed the bank in 2010 at a loss to federal insurers of $280 million. The FDIC, in a 2011 postmortem, blamed Crescent’s collapse on an aggressive growth strategy, a heavy concentration of speculative construction loans and the board’s and officers’ failure to effectively manage the associated risks.
FDIC’s 2011 postmortem said the bank violated FDIC appraisal standards, failed to vet prospective borrowers or to establish loan agreements to protect the bank’s investment, and renewed non-performing loans without proper safeguards. A 2009 cease and desist order cited eight pages of apparent law and policy violations that contained in a bank examiner’s report that has not been released publicly. The bank had already responded by toughening its risk management practices, but those corrections came too late. The FDIC’s inspector general later faulted the agency for not intervening sooner and more proactively.
Battles said the FDIC told bank officials they had done everything they could to keep Crescent open. “They said that we had gone above and beyond the call of duty trying to save the bank,” he said in an interview. “By the time we were trying to adjust, the dominoes had started falling. … We were fighting a foe that was bigger than all of us.”
- Elected in 2008 to the House, after unseating Rep. Jeff Lewis by 187 votes in the GOP primary. (Battles had donated $1,000 to Lewis seven months earlier.)
- Re-elected in 2010, after winning the Republican primary 68-32%.
- Re-elected 74-26% in 2012 and 76-24% in 2014.
- Faces Democrat challenger Stephanie Lujan in the 2016 general election.
- Appropriations (2013 – present)
- Economic Development and Tourism (2011 – present)
- Motor Vehicles (2009 – present)
- Retirement (chairman, 2013 – present)
- Ways and Means (2010 – present)
- Children and Youth (2009 – 2010)
- Education (2009 – 2012)
- Science and Technology (2009 – 2014)
- Retired Bartow County president of Crescent Bank of Jasper (closed by state regulators in 2010)
Business ownership interests
- Managing member, 208 Investments LLC, Cartersville (commercial real estate)
- Board of directors, Crescent Bank of Jasper, through 2009
- UNDISCLOSED Trustee, Ann Felton Collins Credit Shelter Trust
- UNDISCLOSED Trustee, Collins Charitable Remainder Unitrust
- None disclosed.
Real estate holdings
- UNDISCLOSED AFTER 2009 Personal residence in Cartersville, valued at $137,000
- UNDISCLOSED Single-family home at 316 West Ave., Cartersville, valued at $64,000
- An unimproved 6.2-acre tract, zoned for commercial use, at 1203 Tennessee St. in Cartersville, owned by 208 Investments LLC and valued for tax purposes at $910,000
- PARTIALLY DISCLOSED: The Department of Transportation in 2011 paid 208 Investments LLC $89,000 through condemnation for 0.135 acres of right of way. Battles reported the purchase on a Business Transaction Report filed with the state but not on his Personal Financial Disclosure for 2011.
- UNDISCLOSED On the same date, DOT also condemned 6.5 acres from the Collins Charitable Remainder Unitrust, for which Battle is trustee. Purchase price was $2,211,465. Both purchases were for planned improvements at the intersection of U.S. Highways 41 and 411.
Political action committees reported donating more than $9,300 to Battles’ 2008 and 2010 campaigns that he didn’t report receiving. Battles said he returned all of those contributions with a letter saying he was not accepting PAC contributions at that time. “They have tried to give me money every [election],” he said, “and I’ve just sent those checks back.” Battles said his campaign accepted money in 2012 from PACs, but only from those that represent interests in his district.
Donors have given more than $178,000 to Battles’ campaign committee. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2008: $51,364
- 2009-10: $37,005
- 2011-12: $15,850
- 2013-14: $47,366
- 2015-16: $30,600
- Reported cash on hand (Jan. 2017): $5,776
- $15,500 House Speaker David Ralston & other Republican legislators
- $9,500 Gene Tilley and Donald Evans of Tilley Properties & related companies
- $7,466 James Dellinger & others associated with New Riverside Ochre Co. (mining)
- $7,150 Anverse Inc. (owner of WBHF-AM), CEO Jon Oscher and associate
- $4,500 Harris R. Thompson Jr. & spouse, automobile dealer
- $3,750 James & Tina Jennings, Crescent Bank of Jasper & Shaw Insurance Co.
- $3,700 Gene Lee, Peachtree Planning Corp. (financial planner)
- $3,250 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $3,200 Karl Lutjens (CEO, Southland Engineering Inc.) & Hans Lutjens
- $2,750 White, Choate & Watkins LLC
- $2,500 Edward Brush, Cartersville, Ga., developer
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. Meadows’ committee made these political donations:
- 2009-10: $1,500
- 2011-12: $1,000
- 2013: $2,500
Since 2006, lobbyists have reported paying more than $2,300 for meals and other gifts for Battles. The big spenders: GeorgiaLink Public Affairs ($245), AT&T ($168), Georgia Trial Lawyers Association ($162). BFF lobbyist: Boyd Pettit ($245).
- 2009: $681
- 2010: $542
- 2011: $787
- 2012: $220
- 2013: $91
Per diem & travel
When out of session, lawmakers may collect $173 per diem plus mileage for 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: $1,036 (5 days)
- 2010: $173 (1 day)
- 2011: $1,130 (5 days)
- 2012: $456 (2 days)
- 2013: $1,390 (6 days)
- 2014: $462 (2 days)
- 2015: $2,208 (10 days)
Updated Jan. 15, 2017