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    Rep. Mike Cheokas (HD 138)

     

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    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 Arthur 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 given him more than $138,000 since then — almost half of all his donations in that period.

    Cheokas left an inactive bottled water business, “started for a venture that never materialized,” off his personal financial disclosures. He said in 2012 that he planned to correct that oversight, but he hasn’t as of 2015. 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 in 2004 as a Democrat with a 3% margin of victory.
    • Re-elected 2006 with an 11% margin.
    • Re-elected 2008 and 2010 with no opposition.
    • Switched to Republican Party in December 2010.
    • Re-elected with 51% of the vote in 2012 and 52% in 2014.
    • Won his 2016 Republican primary, 58-42%; faces Democrat Bill McGowan in the Nov. 2016 general election.

    Committee assignments

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

     

    • Higher Education (2005 – 06)

     

    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
    • Owner, Cheokas Properties, rental property
    • Owner, Aviation Ventures LLC, airplane ownership

    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)

    Real estate 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 $473,000
    • Ten-acre industrial property next to Mike’s Party Center, valued at $585,000
    • 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, 1111 and 1311 Martin Luther King Blvd., valued at a total of $110,000
    • EZ Storage & Suites LLC mini-warehouse & office suites, 905 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., plus an adjacent unimproved 6-acre tract, valued together at $1.25 million
    • 13.5 unimproved acres on Murphy Mill Road valued at $61,000
    • UNDISCLOSED: Half-acre vacant residential tract on Sheffield Street valued at $6,700
    • UNDISCLOSED: Half-acre vacant industrial tract on Bay Street valued at $6,100

    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 $20,000 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: $135,956
    • 2015-16: $85,552
    • Reported cash on hand (April 2016): $5,906

    Top donors

    • $138,801 House Speaker David Ralston & other Republican legislators
    • $20,350 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia & members
    • $12,900 Ex-Rep. Jimmy Skipper & other Democratic legislators
    • $8,500 Jackson Healthcare LLC
    • $6,750 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
    • $6,700 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association & members
    • $6,375 Georgia Optometric Association
    • $5,700 Georgia Dental Association
    • $5,500 Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals
    • $5,000 Altria
    • $5,000 BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia

    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
    • 2013-14: $5,050

    Lobbyist freebies

    Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Cheokas valued at more than $14,000 since 2006. The big spenders:

    • University System of Georgia ($2,549)
    • lobbyist William Usry ($1,913)
    • Phoebe Putney Health System ($1,049)
    • Georgia Power Co. ($533)

    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: $6,695 (23 days)
    • 2014: $4,502 (15 days)

    Posted Oct. 20, 2012; updated May 24, 2016

     

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