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A licensed real estate appraiser, Cooke’s top donors are executives with Chick-fil-a and East West Express Inc., a trucking company. Other donors include his employer, family members and Carrollton businessman Steve Adams.
Billing himself as a strict constitutionalist, Cooke in his first term co-sponsored a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment, which allows voters rather than state legislatures to select members of the U.S. Senate.
Sept. 26, 2012 — Rick Crawford was just nominated as a Democrat to serve another two-year term in the Georgia House, but he says he’s switching to the Republican Party if he wins re-election. Crawford, who had been pondering his party affiliation for a while, said the Democrats’ endorsement of same-sex marriage pushed him over the edge. “I thought, ‘My time here is done,'” he said. His timing precluded Democrats from fielding another nominee in 2012, but Crawford said there was no political calculation to his decision. (UPDATE: Georgia Democrats, based on this report, reportedly plan to try to get Crawford thrown off the Nov. 6 ballot.)
Barbara Massey Reece has reported collecting relatively modest sums of campaign contributions — less than $180,000 in 15 years of campaigning. Not surprisingly, since she hails from the same hometown as famed criminal defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook, Reece’s top campaign donors are trial lawyers.
Meadows said he worked hard during his first five years at the Capitol to build a campaign war chest of $41,000. Once he was named Insurance chair, he didn’t have to try so hard, collecting $77,000 in the summer and fall of 2010. Another $419,000 followed once he became Rules chair in 2011.
He’s given much of that away to other Republican candidates. “I have a lot more money than I ever thought I would,” he said.
Lobbyists, who spent less than $4,500 on Meadows in 2006-09, have lavished nearly $21,000 on meals, entertainment and other gifts for him since 2011.
July 26, 2012 — “Will The Winner” and “Will Rogers” were just characters, Sen. Chip Rogers has said, created by a client who hired him to perform as a sports handicapper under both names. But newly obtained records show Rogers used those monikers in a manner that was unrelated to any role that he may have played on TV.
July 24, 2012 — For a guy who votes to pass laws, Rep. Rashad Taylor sure has a hard time obeying them. Under Georgia law, Taylor’s disclosure of personal finances was due June 9. Six weeks later, he hadn’t filed it. (UPDATE: He filed it July 25, a day after this article was posted.) He’s filed just two of seven disclosures of campaign finances due since June 2010. Neither reports any contributions, even though registered donors reported giving him $15,000-plus in that time. Nor do Taylor’s disclosures report any expenditures, so the public has no clue what he may have done with the money that he hasn’t reported collecting.
Ronnie Chance has neglected to disclose several aspects of his personal finances in recent years, most notably a condo in downtown Atlanta that he purchased from lobbyist Christina Searles Tai. Chance also omitted his service on the boards of directors of three local non-profit groups. (After the Transparency Project asked him about the omissions, Chance corrected several years’ disclosures to include the condo and his board memberships.)
Taylor, a political consultant, has stayed busy running other candidate’s campaigns, but he’s cut a few corners in running his own. Five times since 2008, Taylor failed to disclose his personal or campaign finances, neglecting to report receipt of at least $11,225 in campaign contributions as a consequence. “There’s really no excuse for not having filed my disclosures that are missing,” Taylor said. “I just haven’t gotten it done.” Taylor also fell behind on his state income taxes, incurring liens totaling $3,161 for 2008 and 2009.
Rep. Ralston, who championed a 2010 law that he touted as ethics reform, accepted a $17,279 lobbyist-funded trip to Europe later that year for himself, his chief of staff and their families. Ralston has had recurring tax difficulties, facing state and federal tax liens of more than $500,000, and he’s needed a little help paying off those debts.
State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like.But who decides what constitutes transparency? Who checks whether they’re telling us all that we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.
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Some criminals have their photos and crimes plastered all over the Internet, so people know who they are and what they did. Not politicians -- until now. The Crooked Politician Registry is an archive of info on public servants who crossed the line.
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Most public corruption cases in Georgia are prosecuted in federal court. The U.S. attorney for North Georgia, including metro Atlanta, has an excellent Web site with archived news releases on prominent cases.
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