State records show the state Department of Transportation wrote $691,500 in checks to Powell’s law firm in 2009, but he said they were never deposited in the firm’s account. Powell said his law partner, who has handled right-of-way acquisition for the DOT, endorsed the checks over to a new limited liability company created to continue that work rather than asking the state to reissue them. Powell said he had no affiliation with the new LLC.
The funds used to fly House Speaker David Ralston’s family to Europe last Thanksgiving were not taxpayers’ dollars — but, quite possibly, they used to be. Chris Brady, the lobbyist who paid for the $17,279 trip, is also a Georgia DOT subcontractor whose firm has pocketed at least $458,000 since 2007 as part of a team studying a possible high-speed Atlanta-to-Chattanooga transit line.
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.
About 180 times last year, state disclosures show, a lobbyist gave House Speaker David Ralston something: A meal, a drink, a round of golf, a family trip to Europe. We know these lobbyists spent about $35,000 on the speaker in 2010. What we don’t know is much more significant: What did they want from him? Most lobbyists never answer that question, and Georgia doesn’t really make them.
Earl Mahfuz, the Georgia DOT’s top numbers guy until state investigators found evidence of financial shenanigans, has retired effective today. Mahfuz has been at the center of an accounting controversy in which DOT employed practices described by Gov. Sonny Perdue as “Enron accounting.”
David Doss of Rome, former chairman of the state Transportation Board, got riled up the other day about the state auditor’s findings of financial mismanagement at DOT. So he wrote AtlantaUnfiltered to share a piece of his mind. Auditors said DoT spent billions of dollars that it did not have, which Doss labels “absurd.” And he chided Gov. Sonny Perdue for using the term “Enron accounting” to describe DOT’s cash management procedures. Read his post …