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April 22-28, 2013

April 28, 2013 --

Georgia law conceals information on child deaths VA hospital promises changes after audit claims mismanagement in 3 deaths Some immigrants spend weeks in solitary confinement Georgia ranks near bottom on hospital infections FAA: UPS flew improperly maintained cargo planes Regulation of fertilizer plants spotty in Georgia Parents: Police botched son’s homicide investigation Ex-judge accused by […]

Ex-speaker’s PAC spending remains under wraps

Ex-speaker's PAC spending remains under wraps
September 4, 2012 --

Sept. 4, 2012 — Glenn Richardson walked away from the Georgia Legislature with $220,000 in campaign funds to spend with little oversight. More than 2 1/2 years later, as he plans a run for the state Senate, he still hasn’t officially disclosed what he’s done with it. The former speaker of the House assures me, though, that he hasn’t taken a penny for himself. “I have received no checks from that,” said Richardson.

Ethics panel: ‘Substantial’ belief that Balfour broke rules

June 1, 2012 --

The Senate Ethics Committee said today there’s “substantial cause” to believe Rules Chairman Don Balfour violated rules for expense reimbursements. The next step: A settlement with Balfour on public meetings that would air the details of the case.

Ethics complaint lodged against Senate Rules chairman

March 26, 2012 --

State Sen. Don Balfour violated his oath of office and Georgia law by filing false requests for mileage reimbursements, a complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee alleges. Balfour in September requested mileage reimbursements for commuting to the state Capitol on several days when lobbyists said they treated him to a meal or entertainment at out-of-town conferences.

Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard

Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard
March 19, 2012 --

Georgia law books are chock-full of statutes written to curtail undue influence on political activity and public policy. So utilities and insurance companies can’t give to a candidate seeking an office that regulates them. Legislators can’t take political donations while in session. Politicians can’t use campaign money for personal benefit. State workers can’t accept gifts from vendors or lobbyists.

Except when they can.

Time and again, Georgia journalists and watchdog groups have found that money finds a way to flow around those laws. These and similar findings underscore what can sometimes be a gaping divide between Georgia’s legal standards for public accountability, on the one hand, and everyday practice. In a new, state-by-state analysis of ethics and accountability practices, Georgia ranks 50th with a grade of F from the State Integrity Investigation.

Henry Co. lawmaker fined $300 for non-disclosures

Henry Co. lawmaker fined $300 for non-disclosures
February 29, 2012 --

Rep. Steve Davis has agreed to pay a $300 fine for failing to include two businesses on his state-mandated financial disclosure.

No ‘magic shield’ protects agencies targeted by investigators

No 'magic shield' protects agencies targeted by investigators
January 5, 2012 --

Exactly three years ago today, I requested records of credit card statements for former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill. A week or two later, after someone let it slip that the sheriff’s office had a bank account that other county officials didn’t know about, I asked for those records too.

I’m still waiting. Legally, though, there’s no valid reason that I should be.

Rep. Rashad Taylor: Unpaid taxes, missing disclosures

Rep. Rashad Taylor: Unpaid taxes, missing disclosures
December 14, 2011 --

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.

Supremes: Wrongly imprisoned man can sue Fulton court clerk

Supremes: Wrongly imprisoned man can sue Fulton court clerk
July 5, 2011 --

A child molestor who spent 22 months too long in prison can sue Fulton County court officials for mishandling papers that would have led to his release, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Former Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Juanita Hicks cannot claim immunity from liability, the high court ruled in a unanimous decision, because the error breached her statutory duty to notify prison officials of the man’s reduced sentence.

Should lobbyists disclose $$$ spent on public officials’ families?

Should lobbyists disclose $$$ spent on public officials' families?
April 5, 2011 --

House Speaker David Ralston and other lawmakers learn today whether lobbyists’ spending on gifts for officials’ spouses and families must be disclosed publicly, when the State Campaign Finance Commission considers an advisory opinion on that point. An attorney close to the speaker requested the opinion Feb. 11, just a few days after a complaint was filed over a $17,280 trip to Europe for Ralston, his chief of staff and their families. A lobbyist promoting high-speed rail paid for the jaunt.

Oxendine postponing refunds of campaign cash

Oxendine postponing refunds of campaign cash
January 18, 2011 --

Jan. 18, 2011 — Under Georgia law, candidates must give back campaign donations for an election they don’t ultimately qualify for. It just doesn’t say when. That provision — some might call it a loophole — may leave John Oxendine with a half-million-dollar legal defense fund to fight pending ethics charges. But Oxendine’s access to that money relies on a somewhat tenuous interpretation of Georgia’s campaign finance law.

ADA agrees to fine for political spending, but AHA may fight

ADA agrees to fine for political spending, but AHA may fight
December 8, 2010 --

Catching up with the State Ethics Commission: The Atlanta Development Authority has agreed to pay a $1,000 fine for promoting passage of a 2008 ballot question, but attorney Randy Evans said the city’s public housing agency disputes a similar complaint. Also last week, the commission backed down from requiring more financial reporting by so-called independent committees, demonstrating yet again the limits on its powers.