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Rep. Valerie Clark
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:
Valerie McKelvey Clark (R-Lawrenceville)
District 101 (Gwinnett County)
Valerie Clark, then principal of Central Gwinnett High School, retired in January 2009 after 38 years as an educator. A month later, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Clark’s retirement ended an internal investigation to determine if she had blocked a disciplinary action against her son, one of eight Central Gwinnett students accused of soliciting marijuana on campus. A witness reportedly told investigators that Clark told her assistant principal, “I’ve never asked for a favor before. … I am telling you as your principal not to take him,” the AJC reported. Clark released a statement at the time saying she initially “did not have all the facts” and thought the incident had occurred off-campus. The school subsequently investigated and took all of the students to a disciplinary panel, she said. (The AJC article is no longer available online, but Timothy Swiney, a Democrat running for Clark’s House seat, has posted a copy on his campaign website.)
Swiney has alleged that Clark co-sponsored a 2011 bill mandating destruction of investigative files of public school employees that did not end in disciplinary action. Since Clark retired during the investigation, Swiney alleged, she “effectively destroyed all evidence of wrongdoing.” The bill in question, however, did not pass and, even if it had, would not have affected Clark’s situation. The bill, authored by Rep. Brooks Coleman, would only have affected investigative files of teachers exonerated by the state’s licensing agency after a full hearing.
As is not uncommon for a first-term legislator, Clark has drawn her largest campaign contributions from other elected officials. Overall, House Republicans have donated $39,465 to her campaigns, or 43 percent of all the money she raised for 2010 and 2012.
- Elected to the House in 2010, unseating Democratic incumbent Lee Thompson.
- Re-elected in 2012 with 56 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Timothy Swiney. In 2010, Clark defeated Swiney when he was a candidate in the Republican primary for the same seat.
- Appropriations (2013 – )
- Education (2011 – present)
- Health & Human Services (2011 – present)
- Human Relations & Aging (2011 – present)
- Intergovernmental Coordination (2013 – )
- Retired Gwinnett County school teacher and principal
Business ownership interests
- Clark’s husband, Robert, is an equitable partner in Clark Development LLC, a business involved in real-estate leasing that’s based in Maryville, Tenn.
- None disclosed
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Lawrenceville valued at $142,000
- Vacation property in Stephens County valued at $490,000
- None disclosed.
Payments from state agencies
- Clark receives an annual pension of $103,308 from the Teachers Retirement System. State records show she earned $129,118 as a Gwinnett principal in FY2008, her last full year on the job.
Friends and Family
- Clark’s husband, Bob, former principal of Parkview High School, was elected in 2011 to the Lawrenceville City Council. He had announced his candidacy for Gwinnett County Commission chairman in 2010 but withdrew from the race before the March 2011 special election.
Donors have contributed more than $90,000 to Clark’s campaign committee since 2010. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2010: $36,025
- 2011-12 : $54,090
- 2013: $10,150
- In April 2012, Clark’s husband loaned an additional $20,000 to the campaign, which it repaid in September 2012.
- Reported cash on hand (Jan. 2014): $30,601
- $24,650 Speaker David Ralston & other House Republicans
- $3,000 Georgia Optometric Association
- $2,250 Resurgens Orthopaedics
- $2,350 Georgia Dental Association
- $2,000 Georgia Chiropractic Association
- $1,800 Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers
- $1,700 Georgia Society of Ophthalmologists
- $1,500 Gwinnett County Association of Educators
- $1,300 Georgia Ambulatory Surgery Centers
- $1,250 Georgia Association of Educators
- $1,250 Georgia Credit Union League
- $1,250 United Health Services of Georgia, Toccoa, Ga., nursing homes
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. Clark’s committee made these political donations:
- 2010: $0
- 2011-12 : $400
- 2013: $500
Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Clark valued at more than $2,400 since 2010. The big spenders: Georgia Gwinnett College ($722), Georgia Power Co. ($395), Professional Association of Georgia Educators ($301). BFF lobbyist: Merri Brantley ($722).
- 2010: $176
- 2011: $1,590
- 2012: $866
- 2013: $496 through Nov. 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. (Per diem was $127 prior to 2007.) 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: $1,460 (7 days)
- 2012: $420 (2 days)
- 2013: $2,530 (12 days through Aug. 14)
Posted Oct. 24, 2012; last updated Jan. 3, 2014