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Jerguson’s filings omit property
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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:
Sean Marion Jerguson (R-Canton)
Financial disclosures filed by Sean Jerguson during his six years as a state representative listed ownership interests in several businesses but omitted more than $1 million worth of real estate that they own. Those properties include the site of his Cherokee County shooting range, which it bought from another of his businesses with the help of a federally-guaranteed loan, and a Cedartown mobile home park owned with partners that is perpetually late paying its property taxes. (Many lawmakers list business properties on their annual disclosures, but others contend the law does not require them to do so. A 1998 opinion by Attorney General Thurbert Baker held that a candidate must disclose corporately owned real estate “if he has a legally enforceable right to use the land for his own personal enjoyment or profit.”)
Jerguson was unaware of the past-due taxes and, in any case, someone else is responsible for paying them, campaign aide Robert Trim said. “That’s not his role,” Trim said.
Jerguson’s newest business, Hi Caliber LLC, used a $755,000 loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration to buy property in Holly Springs and build the shooting range and gun shop. Critics suggested Jerguson, a critic of federal stimulus spending under President Obama, was hypocritical for accepting the money — which an investigative news organization lumped into the 2009 federal stimulus package. In fact, the SBA program in question dates from the 1950s; the 2009 stimulus sweetened the terms by guaranteeing larger loans and a larger portion of the loans. (Officials calculated the loan guarantees amounted to a federal subsidy of $24,027 for Hi Caliber).
In September 2009, Hi Caliber LLC paid Jerguson Properties $210,000 for the 0.8-acre site, which was part of a residential-commercial project in Holly Springs. The purchase price was determined by an appraisal conducted for the lender, Cherokee Bank, Trim said. In 2011, Hi Caliber bought two adjacent parcels totaling 1.7 acres for $238,500 from Jerguson Properties. Cherokee County tax officials appraised each of the three unimproved parcels at $31,500 to $35,000.
In an unrelated business deal, an Arkansas bank sued Jerguson and his partners in September 2012 over a loan secured by the 19-acre mobile home park. The complaint by the Bank of the Ozarks alleges that Jerguson, his wife and their partners in Sapphire Pointe LLC had defaulted on a $699,000 loan that they had personally guaranteed to repay. Jerguson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Sapphire Pointe had missed no payments but the bank declined to renew the loan and called for payment of the remaining balance. A federal judge in May 2013 entered a $640,000 default judgment against Sapphire Pointe and held Jerguson and his partners in contempt of court for failing to turn over information sought by the bank.
Property records show Sapphire Pointe LLC owes Polk County $6,096 in unpaid 2011 property taxes for the park and 30 mobile homes. Polk County imposed 47 similar liens in 2009 and 2010 for $7,335 in unpaid property taxes, which were eventually paid six to 14 months late.
- Elected in 2001 to the Holly Springs City Council, serving two terms, including one as acting mayor.
- Ran for the House in 2004, finishing third with 24 percent of the vote.
- Elected to the House in 2006 by 3-1 after winning the Republican primary runoff by 35 votes.
- Re-elected with 73 percent of the vote in 2008 and 80 percent in 2010.
- Withstood a primary challenge in 2012, winning 58 percent of the vote.
- Resigned House seat Dec. 5, 2012, before being sworn in to his new term so he could run for the state Senate.
- Lost to Brandon Beach, 58 to 42 percent, in a Jan. 8, 2013, special election for the Senate.
- Children and Youth (2007 – 2008)
- Game, Fish & Parks (2007 – 2010)
- Health & Human Services (2007 – 2012)
- Reapportionment (2009 – 2012)
- Regulated Industries (2007 – 2012, vice chairman, 2009- 2012)
- Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation (2010 – 2012)
- State Institutions and Property (2009 – 2012)
- Owner, Hi Caliber LLC. Jerguson is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Hi Caliber is a Platinum Level sponsor of GeorgiaCarry.org, which lobbies state legislators to expand the right to carry firearms in public places. Its lobbyists have spent about $2,000 since late 2008 on meals, hunting trips and “outdoor sporting events” for Jerguson, generally reporting the gifts as coming from their lobbying firms rather than GeorgiaCarry.org.
Business ownership interests
- Owner, Hi Caliber LLC, gun retailer and shooting range.
- President, Jerguson Construction Inc.
- Director, Jerguson Properties LLC (which he lists as a “passive investment”)
- Director, Overlook at Lake Claire LLC (passive investment)
- Director, Sapphire Pointe LLC (passive investment)
Other fiduciary positions
- None disclosed.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in spouse’s name on 5.3 acres in Canton, valued at $371,000.
- Townhome on DeKalb Avenue in DeKalb County valued at $215,000.
- UNDISCLOSED: 19 lots and 2.4 acres of open space at The Overlook of Holly Springs, owned by Jerguson Properties, valued in total at $444,000.
- UNDISCLOSED: Five unimproved lots in the Holly Commons development, each valued at $8,000.
- UNDISCLOSED: Retail store and two adjoining lots in Holly Springs, site of his Hi Caliber shooting range and retail gun business, valued at $616,000.
- UNDISCLOSED: Mobile home park in Polk County, valued at more than $540,000.
- None disclosed
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Friends and Family
- Former campaign aide Brian Laurens lost a February 2013 runoff election to succeed Jerguson in the House. The lawmaker liked Laurens well enough to finance $135,000 toward his purchase of a home from Jerguson Properties LLC in November 2010, with an arrangement that Laurens would make payments directly to Cherokee Bank to help pay off a different loan to Jerguson Properties. Jerguson used campaign funds to pay Laurens $9,315 as a consultant and legislative aide over the next seven months.
- Jerguson has paid $600 in late filing fees for eight campaign or personal financial disclosures. Two of them were two to three years late. As of March 2013, he owed $250 for two more late fees.
Donors have given Jones’ campaign committee more than $488,000 since 2004. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2004: $34,702
- 2006: $107,565
- 2007-08: $125,530
- 2009-10: $76,943
- 2011-12: $121,422
- 2013: $23,233
- LOANS: In addition, Jerguson from 2004 through 2007 reported loaning his campaign $54,896. He has been repaid about $50,000.
- Reported cash on hand in House campaign account: $35,346 (Jan. 2013)
- $16,500 Home Builders Association of Georgia
- $6,500 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $6,300 Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson
- $6,200 Medical Association of Georgia
- $6,000 House Speaker David Ralston
- $5,500 Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.
- $5,200 Cary and Kim Bullard, Gainesville, Ga., Jerguson’s partners in Sapphire Pointe LLC
- $5,000 Steve Macauley, developer
- $4,850 Former Sen. Eric Johnson
- $4,750 Georgia Dental Association
- $4,600 Georgia Alliance of Interior Design Professionals
- $4,500 House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones
- $4,500 House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal
- $4,466 Jerry & Lisa-Marie Haygood, contractors
- $4,250 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association
- $4,000 Novartis
- $3,950 Diane H. Lawrence-Michels, Lawrence Investments
- $3,800 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
- $3,800 Georgia Optometric Association
- $3,750 Rep. Allen Peake
- $3,750 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia
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. Jerguson’s committee made these political donations, totaling more than $15,000:
- 2006: $0
- 2007-08: $3,500
- 2009-10: $9,900
- 2011-12: $2,000
Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Jerguson valued at more than $30,000 since 2006. The big spenders: Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia ($2,162), Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association ($2,001), Cancer Treatment Centers of America ($1,677). BFF lobbyist: Brian Hudson.
- 2006: $1,355
- 2007: $3,691
- 2008: $4,467
- 2009: $5,434
- 2010: $4,888
- 2011: $6,806
- 2012: $5,109
Committee days & travel expenses
When the Legislature is out of session, members may collect $173 per diem, plus mileage, for attending a committee meeting or conducting 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.
- 2007: $7,275 (25 days)
- 2008: $4,764 (16 days)
- 2009: $4,584 (20 days)
- 2010: $3,734 (15 days)
- 2011: $6,651 (27 days)
- 2012: $2,748 (9 days)
Posted Jan. 5, 2013; updated March 11, 2013