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Sen. Bill Jackson: 4 late disclosures, $5.4M in real estate
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William Sidney Jackson Sr.
District 24 (Columbia, Hart, Elbert, Lincoln, Oglethorpe, Wilkes & Taliaferro counties)
After serving 24 years in the Georgia Legislature, Bill Jackson should have financial disclosures down pat.
Or so you’d think. Twice since 2007, Jackson has filed his annual disclosure of personal finances two to four months late. One, due five weeks before a special election, wasn’t submitted until three weeks after he’d won and taken office. Jackson didn’t file a personal disclosure at all in 2014 or 2015.
“You got me buffaloed there,” he said recently when reminded of the oversight.
Jackson’s son, Billy, said he didn’t file the disclosures for his dad because he didn’t receive an email to remind him. Several years ago, the state ethics commission started sending reminders of disclosure deadlines as a courtesy.
Jackson’s filings for 2013 and 2014, completed after our inquiry, also raise questions about millions of dollars of real estate that the senator no longer disclosed. The younger Jackson said those holdings didn’t need to be listed because ownership had been transferred to an irrevocable family trust.
The senator reserved a life estate in his Columbia County home and 20 surrounding acres under a December 2012 quitclaim deed to the trust. The home still receives a homestead exemption for owner-occupants that reduces its local school tax bill by nearly 90 percent.
Georgia’s disclosure law for public officials does not specifically address irrevocable trusts or other estate-planning tools. Under the state’s property laws, the holder of a life estate is entitled to “full use and enjoyment of the property” and may sell or lease his interest in it.
Jackson’s previous disclosures also made no mention of JJMM LLC, a company in which he held a 25 percent interest since 2005. The senator’s share of the company, which owns a $675,000 strip mall in Morgan County, was transferred to the trust in 2012.
- Elected to the Columbia County Board of Education in 1968, serving a four-year term.
- Elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1978, serving through 1984 and again from 1987 to 1990.
- Elected to the House in 1996 after switching to the Republican Party, defeating future Rep. Lee Anderson by 137 votes in a primary runoff.
- Re-elected in 1998 without opposition and in 2000 by swamping a Democrat by more than 7,000 votes. Did not seek re-election in 2002.
- Appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the state Board of Corrections in 2005.
- Elected to the Senate in June 2007 with 63% of the vote.
- Re-elected in 2008, 2010 and 2012 without opposition.
- Re-elected with 71% of the vote over Brenda Jordan, a Democrat, in 2014.
- Announced he will not seek re-election in 2016.
- Has served as one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Senate floor leaders since 2011.
- Administrative Affairs (2013 – 2016)
- Appropriations (2009 – 2016
- Economic Development & Tourism (2007 – 2012, 2015 – 2016)
- Ethics (2011 – 2016)
- Natural Resources & Environment (2007 – 2012)
- Public Safety (2007 – 2008, 2013 – 2014)
- Reapportionment & Redistricting (2011 – 2016)
- Rules (2013 – 2016)
- State Institutions & Property (2013 – 2014)
- Transportation (2007 – 2012, 2015 – 2016)
Business ownership interests
- President/CEO, Tile Center Inc., ceramic tile distributor.
- UNDISCLOSED: One-fourth interest, JJMM LLC (2006-12)
- UNDISCLOSED: William S. Jackson Sr. Family Partnership LLLP, formed in 2000, a legal entity that was set up but never used for estate planning
Business interests of William S. Jackson Sr. Family Trust
- One-half interest in Jackson Senior Junior LLC
- One-fourth interest in JJMM LLC
- One-fourth interest in JJPR LLC
Other fiduciary positions
- None disclosed.
Real estate interests
- Vacation home in Newland, N.C., valued at $190,000
Real estate interests of family trust
- Tile store in Aiken, S.C., valued at $506,000
- Tile store in Augusta valued at $315,000
- Tile store in Greensboro valued at $215,000
- Strip mall in Augusta valued at $820,000
- Strip mall in Madison valued at $675,000
- Residence & 84 acres in Columbia County valued at $232,000
- Residence & seven acres in Columbia County valued at $230,000
- Four office/warehouse properties in Martinez valued at $1.74 million
- Retail store in Columbia County valued at $449,000
- Unimproved lot in Columbia County valued at $76,000
- Warehouse in Martinez valued at $132,000
- None disclosed.
Payments from state agencies
- Tile Center reported sales of $1,984 to state agencies in 2007 and $2,365 in 2009.
Friends and Family
- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign named Jackson to its Georgia leadership team in December 2015.
Donors have given more than $253,000 to Jackson’s campaigns since 1996. In 2007, he also loaned the campaign $30,000, which it reported paying back in 2010. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 1996: $13,873
- 1998: $3,717
- 1999-2000: $17,454
- 2001-02: $700
- 2007-08: $143,044
- 2009-10: $18,791
- 2011-12: $18,400
- 2013-14: $30,105
- 2015: $7,800
- Reported cash on hand (Jan. 2016): $26,678
- $15,300 Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sen. Tommie Williams & other Republican legislators
- $8,450 Home Builders Association of Georgia
- $5,050 Georgia Dental Association
- $5,013 Talmadge Lewis, owner Lewis Bus Line Inc.
- $5,000 John Deere & Co.
- $5,000 Joseph M. Still Burn Centers & physicians
- $4,800 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $4,500 Home Builders Association of the Central Savannah River Area
- $4,450 Altria (parent company of Philip Morris USA)
- $3,600 Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia
- $3,500 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
- $3,500 H. Montague Osteen Jr., Augusta, Ga., retired banker
Candidates may give campaign funds to other candidates, a practice that some say provides a legal means to circumvent contribution limits. A 2003 bill to ban such transfers altogether passed in the Senate but died in the House. Jackson’s committee made these donations:
- 1998: $100
- 2000: $1,250
- 2001-02: $13,597
- 2007-08: $8,500
- 2009-10: $15,250
- 2011-12: $4,550
- 2013-14: $16,100
- 2015: $1,000
Since 2007, lobbyists have reported paying more than $4,100 for meals and other gifts for Jackson. The big spenders: Usry Consulting ($561), Georgia Power Co. ($360), Georgia Oilmen’s Association ($264).
- 2007: $102
- 2008: $865
- 2009: $452
- 2010: $536
- 2011: $656
- 2012: $717
- 2013: $185
- 2014: $192
- 2015: $397
Committee days & travel expenses
When out of session, legislators may collect $173 per day plus mileage for committee meetings or other official business. (Per diem was $127 prior to 2007.) Those living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging.
- 2001; $1,638 (8 days)
- 2002: $1,553 (8 days)
- 2007: $1,727 (6 days)
- 2008: $6,485 (24 days)
- 2009: $6,083 (22 days)
- 2010: $2,158 (9 days)
- 2011: $5,759 (23 days)
- 2012: $11,002 (42 days)
- 2013: $5,313 (19 days)
- 2014: $1,325 (5 days)
- 2015: $4,243 (16 days)
Updated Jan. 10, 2017