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    Rep. Mike Cheokas

     

    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:

    Michael A. Cheokas (R-Americus)

    District 138 (Sumter, Marion, Schley & Talbot counties)

    Legislative website

    Voting record

    Overview

    Cheokas

    Cheokas’ campaign fund-raising fell off after Democrats lost control of the Georgia House. But it picked back up again after he switched parties in December 2010, thanks in large part to his new Republican colleagues, who’ve donated more than $23,000 since then.

    Cheokas left an inactive bottled water business, “started for a venture that never materialized,” off his personal financial disclosures. He said he plans to correct that oversight. His disclosures also don’t mention two vacant lots next to the liquor store he inherited from his father. “Daddy always told me it was a good investment to buy property next to your business,” Cheokas said.

    Political career

    • Elected 2004 as a Democrat with a 3 percent margin of victory.
    • Re-elected 2006 with an 11 percent margin.
    • Re-elected 2008 and 2010 with no opposition.
    • Switched to Republican Party in December 2010.
    • Re-elected by about 200 votes (a 1.3 percent margin) in the 2012 general election.

    Committee assignments

    • Appropriations (2007 – present)
    • Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight (2011 – present)
    • Health & Human Services (2005 – present)
    • Higher Education (2005 – 06)
    • Information and Audits (2005 – present; chair, 2014 – )
    • Insurance (2010 - present)
    • State Properties (2007 – present)

    Occupation

    • Self-employed businessman

    Business ownership interests

    • CEO, Americus Beverage Co. Inc., retail alcoholic beverage sales
    • CEO, Cheokas & Cheokas Inc., retail alcoholic beverage sales
    • owner & manager, Cheokas Properties, rental property
    • partner DM Piper LLC, airplane partnership
    • CEO, EZ Storage & Suites LLC, office suites & mini-storage
    • CEO, Lee Murphy Mill LLC, commercial real estate
    • CEO, Troy Hill LLC, apartment rental
    • CEO, Troy Hill on Lee LLC, apartment rental

    Other fiduciary positions

    • Board member & former chairman, South Georgia Technical College Foundation
    • Board member, Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University
    • Board member, New Horizons Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sumter County
    • UNDISCLOSED: CEO & CFO, Life 02 of Greece Inc., organized to distribute bottled water (inactive)

    Property holdings

    • personal residence in Sumter County valued at $524,000
    • Troy Hill apartments, 303 E. Glessner St., Americus, valued at $1.4 million
    • Troy Hill on Lee apartments, 1422 S. Lee St., Americus, valued at $803,000
    • Mike’s Party Center, 400 Tripp St., Americus valued at $516,000
    • Ten-acre industrial property next to Mike’s Party Center, valued at $650,000
    • Big A Party Center, 1201 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Americus, valued at $114,000
    • UNDISCLOSED: two unimproved commercial properties across the street from Big A Party Center, valued at a total of $113,000
    • EZ Storage & Suites LLC mini-warehouse & office suites, 907 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., valued at $1.26 million
    • 13.5 unimproved acres on Murphy Mill Road valued at $61,000

    Other investments

    • Aflac
    • Coca-Cola Co.
    • Procter & Gamble
    • Textron
    • Wells Fargo & Co.

    Payments from state agencies

    • None disclosed

    Campaign contributions

    Cheokas has raised more than $213,000 in political donations since 2004. Contributions broken down by election cycle:

    • 2004: $46,270
    • 2005-06: $44,075
    • 2007-08: $24,300
    • 2009-10: $20,125
    • 2011-12: $64,383
    • 2013: $14,380
    • Reported cash on hand (July 2013): $18,910

    Top donors

    • $23,801 Rep. David Ralston & other Republican legislators
    • $16,550 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia & its members
    • $12,900 Ex-Rep. Jimmy Skipper & other Democratic legislators
    • $6,750 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
    • $6,700 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association & its members
    • $4,750 BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia
    • $4,500 Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals
    • $4,500 Georgia Dental Association
    • $4,400 Sumter County Democratic Committee
    • $4,000 Georgia Optometric Association

    Campaign to campaign

    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. Cheokas’s committee made these political donations:

    • 2005-06: $1,800
    • 2007-08: $1,000
    • 2009-10: $7,000
    • 2011-12: $2,900
    • 2013: $1,250

    Lobbyist spending

    Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Cheokas valued at more than $14,000 since 2006. The big spenders: the University System of Georgia ($2,549), lobbyist William Usry ($1,913) and Phoebe Putney Health System ($1,049). The breakout by year:

    • 2006: $719
    • 2007: $1,315
    • 2008: $2,006
    • 2009: $2,345
    • 2010: $2,310
    • 2011: $3,051
    • 2012: $1,413
    • 2013: $718 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:

    • 2005: $1,439 (9 days)
    • 2006: $3,083 (18 days)
    • 2007: $3,844 (18 days)
    • 2008: $6,085 (24 days)
    • 2009: $6,659 (32 days)
    • 2010: $5,028 (24 days)
    • 2011: $8,454 (40 days)
    • 2012: $6,722 (27 days)
    • 2013: $4,190 (14 days through Aug. 14)

    Posted Oct. 20, 2012; last updated Jan. 10, 2014

     

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