Better GA, Real PAC complaints set for dismissal
By JIM WALLS
Dec. 4, 2014 — The state ethics commission is preparing to dismiss complaints next week against two high-profile political organizations on the left and the right: Better Georgia Inc. and Real PAC.
Better Georgia, a self-styled “progressive advocacy” organization that hammered Gov. Nathan Deal over ethics issues throughout his 2014 re-election campaign, stands accused of failing to register as an independent political committee. The complaint alleged that an unspecified May 2014 email from the group constituted political activity by an unregistered committee.
Real PAC, registered by Deal supporters in 2011 as a political action committee, allegedly failed to operate independently from Deal’s campaign committee. A September 2013 complaint noted that a number of the governor’s close friends and campaign staff worked for the PAC.
In response, lawyers for both organizations said many of the allegations fall under the jurisdiction of federal authorities, not the state. Other supposed violations, they said, are based on the complainants’ misunderstanding of state law.
Dismissals of both complaints are on the agenda for the commission’s Dec. 10 meeting. The commission is also set to consider a request by Jeremy Berry, Better Georgia’s lawyer, for $980 in legal fees from Ralph Burnham, the St. Marys chiropractor who filed the complaint. A 2010 law allows accused candidates and political committees to seek payment of legal fees if a complaint is deemed frivolous, but the commission has yet to approve such a request.
Real PAC’s attorney, Randy Evans, indicated he also planned to seek payment of legal fees by the complainant, ethics gadfly George Anderson of Rome. His motion for such, though, is not on next week’s agenda.