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Rep. David Wilkerson (HD 38): Pro-charter forces don’t like him
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David Lawrence Wilkerson (D-Powder Springs)
District 38 (Cobb County)
Rep. David Wilkerson made a $24,000 enemy when he voted against a 2012 constitutional amendment making it easier for prospective charter schools to open.
The American Federation for Children, a Washington-based pro-charter advocacy group, shelled out $4,400 shortly after the vote for a full-page newspaper ad and other communications accusing Wilkerson of flip-flopping on the issue for political reasons.
Wilkerson, who holds the seat once occupied by former Gov. Roy Barnes, won re-election that year without opposition. Two years later, though, the advocacy group spent nearly $20,000 trying to unseat him, including a $2,500 donation to his Democratic primary challenger, Connie Taylor; $8,620 for door-to-door canvassers supporting her; and about $8,500 for two mailings.
Wilkerson won in a 61-to-39% landslide.
Taylor, a City of Atlanta grant administrator, is back as Wilkerson’s 2016 primary opponent. There’s no sign yet whether the federation plans to support her campaign again.
The constitutional amendment, approved by voters later in 2012, allows the state to approve charter applications even if local school boards have rejected them. Most House and Senate Democrats, teachers, school boards and then-state Superintendent John Barge, a Republican, opposed the measure.
There’s an intriguing back story to the simmering dispute: The federation’s 2012 newspaper ad prompted Wilkerson to file a complaint accusing David Morgan, its chief lobbyist in Georgia, of failing to disclose the cost as an expense. The state ethics commission dismissed the case but opened a new one against Morgan, who is also a Cobb County school board member, for failing to file nearly four years’ worth of disclosures for his own campaigns.
Among those that actually want Wilkerson to keep serving in the Legislature, his chief financial backers represent typical Democratic constituencies: trial lawyers and teachers. Wilkerson, a certified public accountant, has also collected more than $5,000 from the PAC of the CPA trade association in Georgia.
- 2006: Elected chair of the Cobb County Democratic Party.
- 2010: Elected to the House, unseating six-term incumbent Don Wix 52-48%.
- 2012: Re-elected with no opposition.
- 2014: Re-elected after winning the Democratic primary 61-39%.
- 2016: Won his 2016 Democratic primary, 64-36%.
- Juvenile Justice (2013 – present)
- Retirement (2011 – present)
- Science & Technology (2015 – present)
- Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight (2011 – 2016)
- Children & Youth (2011 – 2012)
- Self-employed, certified public accountant.
Business ownership interests
- Owner, David Wilkerson CPA, LLC.
Other fiduciary positions
- Board member, Cobb Schools Foundation.
- Board member, Floyd Middle School Foundation.
Real estate interests
- Personal residence in Powder Springs, purchased in 2015 for $405,000.
- Rental property in Austell valued at $127,000
- Townhouse in Smyrna valued at $37,000.
- Spouse: 302 acres of farmland near Springfield and Williamsville, Ill.
- Spouse: Small vacation property in Bradenton, Fla., valued at $84,000
- Automatic Data Processing
- Exxon Mobil
- Johnson & Johnson
- Procter & Gamble
- Resources Connection
- Walt Disney Co.
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Friends and Family
- Wilkerson’s wife, Penny, works in marketing for Chick-fil-a restaurants.
Wilkerson has raised more than $112,000 in political donations since 2010. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2010: $15,304
- 2011-12: $17,839
- 2013-14: $51,223
- 2015-16: $28,025
- Wilkerson has also loaned his campaigns $14,000, of which $7,500 has been repaid.
- Reported cash on hand (April 2016): $5,305
- $7,051 Rep. Stacey Evans & other Democratic lawmakers
- $8,500 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $5,160 Georgia Society of CPAs
- $4,300 Georgia Association of Educators
- $4,000 Cobb County Association of Educators
- $2,900 Georgia Dental Association
- $2,400 American Federation for Children
- $2,025 Rukia Rogers, Smyrna, Ga., owner The Highland School
- $2,000 The Barnes Law Group
- $2,000 Malone Law Firm, Atlanta, Ga.
- $1,600 Georgia Federation of Teachers
Wilkerson’s campaign reimbursed him for $3,012 in political expenses in May 2014 without disclosing the end recipient, as required by state law. Disclosures of other campaign reimbursements to him before and after that date have included those details.
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. Wilkerson’s campaign made these donations:
- 2010: $100
- 2011-12: $4,375
- 2013-14: $5,700
- 2015-16: $500
Since 2010, lobbyists have reported spending a modest $2,100 on meals and other gifts for Wilkerson. (The American Federation for Children also reported $4,467 in lobbying expenses for Wilkerson in 2012, which paid for a newspaper ad chastising him and other communications promoting charter schools, not gifts.) The big spenders: Comcast ($490), Georgia Power Co. ($300).
- 2010: $9
- 2011: $846
- 2012: $491
- 2013: $183
- 2014: $309
- 2015: $271
- 2016: $24 through March 31
Committee days & travel expenses
When out of session, legislators may collect $173 per day plus mileage for committee meetings or other official business. Those living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging.
- 2011: $1,899 (10 days)
- 2012: $1,719 (9 days)
- 2013: $3,133 (17 days)
- 2014: $2,034 (11 days)
- 2015: $3,422 (17 days)
Updated Jan,. 15, 2017