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Rep. Clay Cox (HD 108): Moved to gut overseers
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John Clayton Cox (R-Lilburn)
District 108 (Gwinnett County)
When state regulators told Clay Cox in 2009 that his business wasn’t following the rules, he didn’t give up. He just tried to change the rules.
At the time, some observers considered Cox’s efforts as a third-term legislator to be a conflict of interest. Cox, the CEO of Professional Probation Services (PPS), introduced a bill to defang the state agency overseeing companies, like his, that manage misdemeanor probation in cities and counties across Georgia. He sponsored a second bill to abolish the agency altogether.
Cox insisted the measures posed no conflict, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they wouldn’t help PPS “in the slightest.”
State records, though, show PPS was in a dispute with the council over the very issues that his bill addressed. A May 2008 audit had found PPS’s contracts with courts in Kennesaw and Albany violated the agency’s rules as well as state law.
PPS’s agreements, the council found, did not specify minimum qualifications or criminal background checks; training guidelines; or probation revocation procedures. The Kennesaw contract also did not address staffing levels.
PPS agreed to amend the contracts but, by January 2009, still had not done so to the council’s satisfaction.
Cox planned to discuss his address his concerns about the council’s authority at its May 2009 agenda. To prepare for the meeting, the council’s staff director asked him to submit the legal basis for his concerns by March 1.
State records don’t show whether Cox met the March 1 deadline. But two days later, on March 3, he filed House Bill 622, which would have barred the council from ordering changes in probation contracts or applying its rules retroactively. If it passed, the council would have had to drop the matter.
A House committee passed HB 622, but Cox withdrew the bill a few days later after an article in the AJC raised questions about a possible conflict.
Cox, who did not respond to our phone messages seeking comment, left the House in 2010 to run unsuccessfully for Congress. The Legislature abolished the council in 2015, transferring its powers to the new Department of Community Supervision.
- Ran for Congress in 2002, losing 60-40% to Democrat David Scott
- Elected to the House, 69-31%, in 2004.
- Re-elected in 2006 after winning the primary 59-41%; unopposed in 2008.
- Ran for Congress in 2010, finishing third with 20% behind winner Rob Woodall.
- Won the 2016 GOP primary, 58-42%, for House District 102; elected to the House 53-47% over Tokhir “T.R.” Radjabov in the general election.
- Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications (2007 – 2010, 2017 – )
- Juvenile Justice (2017 – )
- Transportation (2017 – )
- Banks & Banking (2005 – 2010)
- Higher Education (2007 – 2008)
- Industrial Relations (2007 – 2010)
- Public Safety (2005 – 2006)
- Reapportionment (2009 – 2010)
- State Institutions & Property (2005 – 2006)
- CEO, Professional Probation Services Inc.
Business ownership interests
- Managing partner, Cox Corrections X LLC, holding company
- Spouse: C & C Corporate Services (sole proprietorship).
Other fiduciary positions
- CEO, Professional Probation Services Inc.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Lilburn valued at $363,000.
- None disclosed.
Payments from state agencies
- $100 monthly per diem for service on the state Board of Community Health until resignation Feb. 2016
Friends and Family
- Ex-Sen. Ronnie Chance, prior to his election in 2004, served as Professional Probation Services’ lobbyist.
Cox has raised more than $773,000 in political donations. He’s also loaned his campaigns hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $25,000 in 2016. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2002: $64,250
- 2003-04: $49,450
- 2005-06: $100,227
- 2007-08: $39,005
- 2009-10: $26,103
- 2010 (Congress): $208,568
- 2016: $52,074
- Reported cash on hand (Oct. 2016): $4,408
- $40,935 Sen. Ronnie Chance & other Republican legislators
- $21,316 Professional Probation Services and its parent company, Universal Health Services
- $18,102 Bowen Family Homes & executives
- $13,050 AT&T / BellSouth
- $11,300 John D. Stephens & family, pipeline contractor
- $9,350 Simpson Brick Sales Inc. & owner Thomas J. Simpson
- $8,150 Frank & Catherine Domounsky, owners Ideal Development Concepts
- $7,650 National and Georgia Associations of Realtors
- $7,410 Kathy and William Oldham Jr., Duluth, Ga., retired
- $6,700 American and Georgia Societies of Anesthesiologists
- $6,600 Brand Banking Co. & board chair Bartow Morgan
- $6,150 Deming, Parker, Hoffman, Campbell & Daly LLC, Norcross, Ga., law firm
- $6,000 William Woodall, McDonough, Ga., lobbyist
- $5,000 Every Republican Is Crucial (PAC of former U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor)
- $5,000 Publix Super Markets
- $5,000 United Parcel Service
- $4,350 Georgia and National Automobile Dealers Associations
- $4,350 Georgia Bankers Association
- $4,000 Kimberly Carter & Ken Porter, Ace Supply Co., Inc.
- $3,849 Coca-Cola & the Georgia Beverage Association
- $3,300 Virgil R. Williams, Stone Mountain, Ga., CEO The Williams Group
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. Cox’s campaign made these donations:
- 2004: $200
- 2005-06: $796
- 2007-08: $3,000
- 2009-10: $5,500
From 2006 to 2010, lobbyists reported paying more than $5,000 for meals and other gifts for Cox. The big spenders:
- $1,233 Georgia Chamber of Commerce
- $581 AGL Resources
- $530 Georgia Power Co.
- $507 AT&T / BellSouth
- $279 University System of Georgia
The American Legislative Exchange Council in 2005 also gave Cox $1,642 in “scholarships” to defray costs of attending ALEC functions. Corporate donors that employ lobbyists in Georgia fund the scholarships, which generally are not disclosed as lobbyist gifts since ALEC itself has no lobbyists here.
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 until 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.
- 2005: $2,124 (14 days)
- 2006: $2,978 (16 days)
- 2007: $4,177 (16 days)
- 2008: $2,882 (15 days)
- 2009: $4,573 (23 days)
- 2010: $2,334 (12 days)
Updated Jan. 15, 2017