blow the whistle
$show the love

  • register for email updates

  • Loading...Loading...


  • let the records reflect

    George Anderson’s last hurrah: No charge for Deal’s legal fees

     

    By JIM WALLS

    Nov. 16, 2012 — George Anderson won his fight today over liability for Gov. Nathan Deal’s legal fees. But he says he’s finished nonetheless after a quarter-century of haranguing politicians across Georgia for perceived ethical lapses.

    “I can’t handle the stress anymore,” he said. “It affects my body too much.”

    Anderson

    The state ethics commission today warned Anderson about the language he used in three complaints about Deal’s handling of his 2010 campaign finances. But, on a 3-1 vote, the commission rejected Deal’s contention that portions of the complaints were frivolous and therefore merited payment of legal expenses.

    The governor’s attorneys said defending unsubstantiated portions of Anderson’s charges had cost more than $10,000 in legal fees. But all they wanted, they said, was an apology and payment of $337.50 for a half-hour of lead attorney Randy Evans’ time.

    “It’s never been about the money,” Evans said.

    They got the apology but not the money. “My language was strong and I sincerely, sincerely apologize,” Anderson told Evans.

    Today’s hearing was the first test of a 2010 law that allows the subjects of complaints to collect legal fees if the commission deems the charges to be “frivolous” — a term that the law does not define. Advocacy groups have warned that citizens could be intimidated against filing ethics complaints if they feared a financial penalty.

    “It could scare the life out of folks who are thinking that they would receive this same result if they brought forth a legitimate complaint,” William Perry, director of Common Cause Georgia, told the commission.

    Randy Evans, Gov. Nathan Deal’s attorney, waits to speak before the state ethics commission.

    Two people have already contacted Common Cause seeking help should they be asked to pay legal fees, Perry said.

    Anderson lodged six complaints over Deal’s reporting of his campaign and personal finances during his 2010 race for governor. Only three were filed after the 2010 law took effect in January 2011.

    The complaints covered a wide range of alleged violations, ranging from the omission of more than $2 million in personal debt to accepting excess campaign contributions to misuse of campaign funds. Deal wound up paying a $3,350 fine — renamed an “administrative fee” in last-minute negotiations — after admitting technical violations regarding some of the charges.

    But Evans labeled other accusations as “libelous, frivolous … and over the line” and demanded that Anderson be held accountable for them. Specifically, Evans said, Anderson should pay for falsely alleging that:

    • Deal’s campaign overpaid his daughter-in-law for fund-raising and suggesting that she kicked some of the money back to the campaign,
    • Overpaid Evans’ law firm, McKenna Long Aldridge LLP,  again in exchange for a possible kickback, and that
    • Deal reappointed former Chairman Patrick Millsaps so he would derail the commission’s investigation of the governor.

    Supporters defended Anderson, who’s filed hundreds of ethics complaints over the years, and warned the commission against sending the wrong message.

    “He’s a quirky guy. He’s not your average person,” said Bill Bozarth, former director of Common Cause Georgia.

    “I’m sort of at a loss,” he added, “as to why the governor would want to go the extra mile to leave the impression that he’s willing to come down hard on the person who filed a complaint against him.”

    Evans held that Anderson should pay because “The truth of the matter is that even quirky people have to live by the rules,” he said.

    Anderson, while expressing relief after the decision, still left the meeting unsatisfied. Chairman Kevin Abernethy, showing increasing irritation, cut Anderson off several times as he addressed the commission, finally ordering Anderson to stop talking and adjourning the meeting as he tried to make a final comment.

    Still, Georgia’s longtime ethics gadfly got the last word as Abernethy packed up his things and prepared to leave. Visibly angry, Anderson hobbled toward his seat, paused, pointed a finger at Abernethy and issued a final rejoinder:

    “Jerk!”

    Watch the full video of Friday’s hearing here, courtesy of Nydia Tisdale of AboutForsyth.com.

     

    ###

     

     

    Print Friendly

     

    4 Responses to “George Anderson’s last hurrah: No charge for Deal’s legal fees”

    1. Kenneth Stepp says:

      I certainly think as a citizen I have the right to complain and file complaints against our elected officials. Having said that. George Anderson may have started off as a crusader, but faded into something else, at least in my opinion. When filing ethics complaints becomes your livelihood instead of your passion, motives change. I would say that about any citizen group. Of the hundreds of ethics complaints filed by Mr Anderson, the back story is there are hundreds of what I believe are victims left in his wake. Reputations tarnished, elections lost, misery spread. For profit. Legitimate watchdog groups should take this moment to access where they are. If they are “making a living” filing complaints, then they have crossed that line. If they are doing it out of passion, then they are still a necessary component of the system. We need them. Especially after what happened to the State Ethics Commission in recent years. That is, in my opinion, the biggest problem Georgia ethics has. The lack of accountability is dangerous.

    2. E. Denise Caldon says:

      I will always admire George Anderson’s outrage when I apprised him of the fact that Georgia’s top legal attorney – Attorney General Sam Olens – filed four “Responses in Opposition” to the four Motions asking Judge Doris Downs of Fulton County Superior Court to llift the Protective Orders Olens’ office had put into place to keep the public from reading the confirmed “illegal, fraudulent and racketeering” practices by top officials in Georgia’s higher education system – the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
      FACT: Attorney General Sam Olens pledges a more “open government” and demands “government transparency” of government officials, but is on legal record exempting himself from both when it comes to HIS own defendants. Fact: Governor Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and members of the House and Senate Higher Education Committees have chosen – on record – to ignore the unquestionable “Conflict of Interest” and hypocrisy by Sam Olens’ in his public pledges for government transparency is just one more example of why Georgia was “Ranked Dead Last in Ethics and Integrity.”
      The Deposition of Regent Doreen Stiles Poitevint, yes, Alec’s wife, is now available to read from the Clerk of Fulton County Superior Court in Caldon v BOR, 2009-CV-165267. Poitevint’s statement in which she confirms the “unethical, illegal and racketeering” practices that have negatively impacted USG faculty, staff and students statewide for years confirms the non-accountability by top government officials:
      Open Record Excerpt from Deposition of Regent Doreen Stiles Poitevint dated 8 February 2010, Page 11 is one confirmation of many Sam Olens is trying so desperately to keep from public view:

      Q: “Is there a review of any documents or evidence by the Board of Regents?
      A: “Do you mean physical documents?
      Q: “Yes, Ma’am.
      A: No.”
      Q: “Do the Regents review the applications for review that are submitted by the employees?”
      A: “No.”
      Q: “Why not?”
      A: “I think just like I said time restraints.”

      Attorney General Sam Olens stated on record that I am nothing more than a “disgruntled employee who lost her case.” I assure you, Sam, I am anything but. As a Veterans Widow, former employee for the Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill and the USG for 15 years, I am anything but. With the new Legislative Session agendas now underway, I have only just begun to “educate” our elected officials – again – on the facts you filed four oppositions to keep from public view. If only we had more “George Andersons” with his backbone and tenacity in our General Assembly and Governor’s Office!

    3. David Milum says:

      The echo of George Anderson’s ethics career will long resonate within the walls of our State capitol albeit it falling on deafened ears. I serious doubt that there will ever be another who fights harder to support good government. It’s just not in Georgia where honor and integrity have been reduced to the level of outright liars, but all over this country. It saddens me to no end and I solemnly fear that this will only get worse as each day passes.

      Honor: good name or public esteem, reputation, a showing of usually merited respect, recognition

      Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty, the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished, a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition

      Sadly these attributes are quickly becoming unfound and unrecognizable not only in government but in our general population.

      I have worked closely with George Anderson for sixteen years. In that time not once have I seen George file a complaint that did not have ‘some’ merit. Were some of those complaints superficial? Yes, some didn’t seem like they were worth the trouble but entry level ethics abusers all start out that way. Why wait until they reach the ethics disparagement plateau of Governor Nathan Deal.

      George has worn himself out both mentally and physically doing the right thing for Georgia ethics. He proclaimed his retirement today from being Georgia’s premier ethics watchdog or gadfly, whichever better suits one’s particular take on George’s long public service.

      Perhaps one could applicably consider that my dear friend George Anderson has now removed his gadfly wings and placed them in a place of honor for posterity. Thank you George and Marilyn Anderson for your many years of long public service. Ms. Anderson has unwaveringly stood beside George and she deserves her own share of kudos for her contribution.

      May God bless you both.

      David Milum, Forsyth County Citizen’s Oversight Committee

    4. Another Deal-er says:

      The fact that a weasel like Kevin Abernethy is “Chairman” of the State Ethics Commission demonstrates just how corrupt this state government is.

      He, like Patrick Millsaps before him, is just a tool of Nathan Deal and he is there to ensure that Georgia becomes as corrupt as it can possibly be.

    Leave a Comment