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    Rep. Joyce Chandler (HD 105): Disputed tax liens top $525K

    Rep. Joyce Chandler (HD 105): Disputed tax liens top $525K

    Oct. 20, 2016 — Rep. Joyce Chandler and her husband owe more than a half-million dollars in back income taxes, federal tax collectors say, and the amount appears to be growing.

    The IRS in July filed a lien for $519,000 including interest and penalties, just the latest development in a decade-long attempt to collect taxes from the legislator and her husband, Martin.

    “It was all my deal. She had nothing to do with it,” Martin Chandler said.

    Pumpkingate remains in limbo in Dawsonville 1st amendment case

    Pumpkingate remains in limbo in Dawsonville 1st amendment case

    #Pumpkingate played out again in a Dawson County courtroom today. But with no immediate resolution, Nydia Tisdale still is not #free.

    Companies with DeKalb business gave $44K+ to Stan Watson fund

    Companies with DeKalb business gave $44K+ to Stan Watson fund

    July 11, 2016 – Vendors and companies with business before DeKalb County officials kicked in tens of thousands of dollars in undisclosed donations to fund a county commissioner’s pet community projects, newly available public records show.

    At least $44,000 was collected on behalf of Commissioner Stan Watson from 2011 to 2014 from such companies, including water and sewer vendors, pension investment managers and companies seeking tax breaks and land-use decisions from the county.

    Atlanta Unfiltered obtained records naming many donors to the Watson’s fund, unidentified until now, from the state ethics commission through a request under the Open Records Act. The commission last month dismissed a complaint against the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, which acted as fiscal agent for the fund, but is conducting a preliminary inquiry into Watson.


    Rep. Sharon Cooper (HD 43): Can’t talk now about $812K from health-care lobby

    Rep. Sharon Cooper (HD 43): Can't talk now about $812K from health-care lobby

    May 17, 2016 — Sooner or later, just about every new health-care policy in Georgia must go through Sharon Cooper. That’s why health-care interests have showered Cooper with more than $812,000 in campaign donations over the years.

    The money flows from drug companies and pharmacies, doctors and dentists, hospitals and nursing homes, insurers and managed-care organizations. Many of these donors will later appear before Cooper’s committee trying to push a bill, kill one or tweak it to their advantage.

    Atlanta Unfiltered reached out to Cooper to ask whether the health-care donations that help keep her in office ever represent a conflict for her. Alas, she indicated campaign demands would keep her tied up until after this year’s Republican primary.

    “I’ll talk to you after this is all over,” she said on her way to a meet-and-greet reception. “I’m BUSY.”

    Rep. Mike Glanton (HD 75): No quid pro quo intended in schools contact

    Rep. Mike Glanton (HD 75): No quid pro quo intended in schools contact

    House leaders found Mike Glanton did not violate ethics rules in 2015 when he appeared to be leveraging his public role as a legislator to generate some private business. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t come close.

    Glanton denied any ill intent, and the House Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against him because Glanton’s employer didn’t wind up benefiting from his actions.

    The case prompted Ethics chair Joe Wilkinson, though, to send out a three-page warning to House members: “Linking your legislative service with your private business endeavors will often create an appearance of impropriety or improper conduct whether one is intended by the member or not. … The best rule to follow is to not link your legislative position in any manner with your private business activities.”

    Sen. Mullis’ campaign disclosures short by $165K, include $107K in mystery spending

    Sen. Mullis' campaign disclosures short by $165K, include $107K in mystery spending

    Feb. 22, 2016 — For most of Jeff Mullis’s 15 years in the Georgia Senate, the cash balance in his campaign account has been anybody’s guess.

    Since 2010, Atlanta Unfiltered has found, accounting errors in Mullis’ campaign disclosures have lowballed his cash on hand by more than $165,000. Those discrepancies came on top of inaccuracies in earlier disclosures that misreported tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket spending as cash.

    The upshot: Mullis’ disclosures have not accurately reported the size of his campaign’s bank account since 2002.

    Senator can’t get quorum to hear revolving-door job ban

    Senator can't get quorum to hear revolving-door job ban

    Feb. 18, 2016 — Georgia legislators today were supposed to hear a colleague’s proposal that could limit their future job prospects. Only the crickets — and Sen. Butch Miller — showed up.

    Sen. Mike Crane was ready to pitch his plan to bar members of the House and Senate from taking any appointed state job for two years after leaving their seats.

    But as 4 p.m. arrived, when a Senate Rules subcommittee was scheduled to vet the bill, only one member had shown up. An aide texted absent members but all were apparently in other meetings.

    Judson Hill reports $34K in missing donations, but are there more?

    Judson Hill reports $34K in missing donations, but are there more?

    Feb. 17, 2016 — Most legislators have misplaced a few campaign donations over the years. Sen. Judson Hill, at least figuratively, misplaced at least 68 of them.

    Now, following inquiries by Atlanta Unfiltered, Hill’s campaign has disclosed that the Marietta Republican received more than $34,000 of previously unreported contributions since 2013.

    Hill did not respond to our questions, though, regarding more than $20,000 that donors reported giving him earlier but that he has not reported receiving.

    Loophole D: Dormant campaign accounts fade away with no accountability

    Dec. 11, 2015 — Former Sen. Chip Rogers, who hasn’t reported on his six-figure campaign account since 2013, sits atop a list of dozens of politicians who appear to have done the same thing.

    Atlanta Unfiltered, using Georgia’s searchable campaign finance database, found 48 former state office-holders and candidates whose most recent disclosures showed their campaign accounts still held amounts ranging from $500 to as much as $108,000.

    They include a felon, a tax delinquent, a former House speaker, a former state school superintendent, a federal prosecutor, a DOT board member, a former DOT commissioner and several state officials pulling down more than $100,000 a year. Between them, the non-filers left nearly $1.1 million in campaign funds unaccounted for.

    Is ex-Sen. Rogers cashing in his campaign chips? Or has he already?

    Dec. 2, 2015 — Former Sen. Chip Rogers has laid the groundwork to write himself checks for more than $84,000 from two dormant campaign accounts.

    Rogers has failed to file four required disclosures of his campaign finances since 2013, but he’s spent plenty of time revising old ones, recording tens of thousands of dollars of previously undisclosed debt for out-of-pocket expenses.

    His revised disclosures raise a question that Georgia law does not address: Can a candidate retroactively claim to have made campaign loans that were never reported while in office?

    Loophole C: Credit card omissions just fine, Deal case shows

    Nov. 19, 2015 — Three years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign admitted that an American Express payment didn’t add up because it included a top aide’s personal expenses. The aide reimbursed the $1,185, a campaign lawyer said.

    But what about the $69,000 in unexplained spending in 158 other credit card payments by Deal’s campaigns? Did they include personal expenses? No one’s saying.

    Since 1998, a review of Deal’s disclosures show, virtually every credit card bill paid by his state and federal campaigns has omitted the details of some purchases.

    Loophole B: 14 lawmakers’ undisclosed business with state

    Nov. 6, 2015 — Georgia’s disclosure laws for legislators who do business with the state, as we reported Wednesday, are a mess. It’s unclear what transactions should be reported and which of two disclosure forms should be used. Digging through data on state vendors, I came up with payments to 14 legislators’ businesses that weren’t reported on one form or the other, sometimes both. The lawyers can sort out whether the law required disclosure. I was more interested in the transparency than the legality of these types of transactions.