Sen. Don Balfour, conceding he could not have been in two places at once, has returned nearly $800 to Georgia taxpayers. As Atlanta Unfiltered reported in February, Balfour claimed that much in expenses for working on state business in Atlanta on days when lobbyists said they had treated him for meals or entertainment at out-of-town conferences.
If I didn’t know better, I’d be outraged by the allegedly shameful and irresponsible conduct of the Center for Public Integrity, called to our attention Thursday in the AJC. But I do know better, so please allow me to explain how Rick Thompson’s opinion piece ignored CPI’s findings about Georgia’s limp anti-corruption laws while building a straw man that could easily be ripped apart.
A blog about public records …
Tracking down the investors who want Georgia to give them $125 million in tax credits isn’t as easy as it should be. A walk through online disclosures identifies some of the suits who hope to be getting some of that.
Concerns over hospital executive pay arose again recently when Reynold J. Jennings, WellStar Health System’s new CEO, received a contract with a base salary of $975,000. But that paycheck doesn’t even rank among the top 10 at non-profit hospitals in Georgia. Published reports show 14 other hospital CEOs earning seven-figure compensation.
Mark Elgart, when not scaring the pants off of local school boards, draws a paycheck of more than $350,000 from this Alpharetta-based non-profit, Advance Education Inc. Tax records show four other senior staffers also earn $150,000 or more.
DeKalb County schools paid $341,000 several years back for a salary audit that found they were overpaying employees by millions of dollars a year. Now, school officials can’t seem to locate those findings. So, what happened?
House Speaker David Ralston, staff and family enjoyed a $17,000 working holiday last Thanksgiving. So much for the idea of a $100 gift cap. Or for transparency. Lobbyist Chris Brady, representing Commonwealth Research Associates LLC, picked up the tab for hotels and airfare. A few weeks later, Brady took Ralston and staff to a $403 dinner. Other than that, official disclosures tell us nothing.
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Jarrell “Jay” Walker Jr., a former aide to ex-House Speaker Glenn Richardson, was among 11 people charged today in an alleged scheme by gambling interests to buy Alabama lawmakers’ votes. Walker and others allegedly offered such inducements as illicit political contributions, campaign appearances by country music stars and payments to persuade prospective electoral opponents to withdraw — all in a failed effort to legalize electronic bingo machines in Alabama.
Headlines trumpeted state Inspector General Elizabeth Archer‘s latest findings a few weeks back: “State’s ethics lawyers blasted for outside work.” “State attorneys ran private firm on public time.” “Moonlighting Ethics Commission lawyers violated state policies.” But look closer at Archer’s investigative files, as I did, and you’ll find fairly flimsy evidence behind some of her conclusions. Some “findings” are artfully worded to suggest impropriety without explicitly saying so. Not only that, there’s no sign that her office informed one of the attorneys of a key issue or asked for an explanation.