Ex-Sen. JaNice VanNess (SD 43)
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JaNice Marie Frey VanNess (R-Conyers)
District 43 (Rockdale, Newton & DeKalb counties)
JaNice VanNess’s top campaign donor is her father, Steve Frey, who along with his business has given $14,500 to her campaigns since 2010. One $2,500 donation, though, may not have been strictly legal.
As VanNess sought another term on the Rockdale County Commission in 2014, Frey-Moss Structures gave her $2,500 in July for the primary that had been held two months earlier. Candidates in Georgia may only accept donations for an election after the fact if they’re retiring a campaign debt — a restriction that Van Ness said she was unaware of. She returned the money after losing the 2014 general election.
VanNess’s for-profit company, RayJan Corp., owns three sites in Rockdale and Newton counties that it leases to Peachtree Academy, the non-profit private Christian school that she founded. The annual rent was $202,875 in 2014-15, according to the school’s most recent tax filing.
Peachtree Academy paid a second for-profit company owned by VanNess, Premiere School Properties Inc., more than $2 million from 2009 through 2012 for payroll expenses, tax records show.
Federal law requires that tax-exempt organizations disclose transactions with so-called “interested persons” or businesses that they control. Such payments are permissible as long as they are arms-length transactions.
- Elected in 2006 to the Rockdale County Commission.
- Re-elected 53-47% in 2010; defeated 54-46% in 2014 bid.
- Won a 2015 special election runoff for the Senate, 50.5% to 49.5%.
- Lost re-election bid in 2016 to ex-Rep. Tonya Anderson, 70-30%.
- Economic Development and Tourism (2016)
- Education and Youth (2016)
- Health and Human Services (2016)
- State Institutions and Property (2016)
- CEO, Peachtree Academy Private School.
Business ownership interests
- President, RayJan Corp. From 2008 through 2014, tax forms show, Peachtree Academy paid the company $991,000 to rent school facilities.
- President, Premier School Properties. From 2009 through 2012, tax forms show, Peachtree Academy paid the company $2.38 million for the school’s payroll.
- CEO/CFO, Peachtree Academy Franchising Co. Inc.
Other fiduciary positions
- None disclosed.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Rockdale County valued at $298,000.
- 6.5-acre school campus in Covington valued at $3.38 million
- 3.4-acre school campus in Conyers valued at $1.7 million
- 1.8-acre school campus in Conyers valued at $399,000
- 2 unimproved acres in Rockdale County valued at $8,000
- Single-family home in Peachtree City valued at $143,000.
- Peachtree Academy Franchising Corp.
Payments from state agencies
- The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning pays RayJan Corp. about $329,000 a year for Pre-K programs.
VanNess has raised more than $120,000 in political donations since 2011 and loaned her campaign $13,700. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2011-14: $15,177
- 2015 special election: $40,428
- 2016: $65,225
- Reported cash on hand (Oct. 2016): $31,386
- $66,703 Sen. David Shafer & other Republican lawmakers
- $20,100 Frey-Moss Structures & CEO Steven Frey
- $7,800 HP Building Systems Inc. & CEO Henry Frey
- $5,000 Pro-Kids Inc., Conyers, Ga., child-care center, & owner Carolyn Frey
- $2,600 Billy Corey & Jay Grover, Corey Companies Inc., advertising
- $2,600 Courtesy Ford of Conyers
- $2,500 Republican State Leadership Committee PAC , Washington, D.C.
- $1,300 Duke Hospitality LLC, Conyers, Ga., hotel management
- $1,300 Republican Leadership Fund of Georgia
- $1,250 Associated Builders & Contractors of Georgia
Candidates may make political donations with campaign funds, allowing prolific fund-raisers to share their contributions with other legislators or candidates. A 2003 bill to ban such donations passed in the Senate but died in the House. VanNess’s committee has made no such contributions.
Lobbyists have reported paying $374 for meals and other gifts for VanNess this year.
Updated Jan. 10, 2017