Nov. 26, 2012 — Legally, Georgians can’t spend campaign money raised for one political office to run for a different one. There’s a wide-open loophole, though, and veteran legislator Bill Hembree of Douglas County is only the latest to use it.
When Hembree left the Georgia House recently, he refunded $60,400 from his House campaign account to donors. Within a week, those same supporters gave all but $1,000 of the money back to Hembree to run for a just-opened Senate seat. Here’s the clever part: Rather than simply returning the most recent contributions, Hembree reached back as far as 11 years to choose the donors who got refunds.
Oct. 28, 2012 — Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson has raised more than $32,000 for his campaign for the state Senate. Disclosures filed this morning show his top donors include former Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter, former Mercer University president Kirby Godsey and the Hospital Corporation of America. Several former House colleagues also chipped in. (UPDATE: Ex-Rep. Bill Hembree, one of Richardson’s opponents, raised nearly four times as much — $126,875 — plus a $10,000 personal loan.)
House Republicans today chose Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) to replace Glenn Richardson as speaker. And Richardson, who will step down at the end of the month, made an emotional farewell, taking the blame for unspecified failures during his five-year tenure: “Wherever we may have failed, I take full responsibility for those failures. All of ’em. … When you leave here today, you leave all those behind. You leave them on my shoulders as I walk out of here. They’re mine.”