blow the whistle
$show the love

Ethics panel revisits Deal case today

November 13, 2013 --

Nov. 13, 2013 — Today, Georgia’s beleaguered Campaign Finance Commission decides just how badly it wants to learn about itself and its 2012 ethics settlement with Gov. Nathan Deal. On the table when the commission meets at 9:30 a.m.: A motion to formally ask State Auditor Greg Griffin to conduct a performance audit of the agency. Then the question will be: Should the commission do more to address allegations that Deal’s office dictated the outcome of an investigation into his 2010 campaign finances? “I’m certainly not taking anything off the table,” chair Kevin Abernethy said.

State auditor, not Olens, to review Deal investigation

State auditor, not Olens, to review Deal investigation
October 22, 2013 --

Oct. 22, 2013 — State Auditor Greg Griffin, rather than the attorney general’s office, will try to sort out charges that a 2012 ethics investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal was compromised. Griffin agreed to investigate allegations that the director of the state ethics commission, after talks with key staffers in Deal’s office, ordered the case closed with a minimal penalty. The commission, which announced Griffin’s role late today, had voted last month to ask Attorney General Sam Olens to name a special assistant to review its handling of the case.

Olens, as it happened, had been mentioned as one possible factor in Deal’s resolve to settle the case in 2012 rather than let it reach a public hearing. A commission attorney has testified she was told that the governor didn’t want Olens, a potential rival in the 2014 governor’s race, to play any role in the proceedings.

Ralston’s legal stance could gut ethics panel’s powers

Ralston's legal stance could gut ethics panel's powers
October 8, 2013 --

Oct. 8, 2013 — Georgia lawmakers touted their 2013 ethics bill as historic, noting that they’d restored rule-making authority to the Campaign Finance Commission. Now, though, House Speaker David Ralston’s lawyer, Doug Chalmers, contends the commission can’t enforce a key disclosure rule on campaign spending. That interpretation, if it prevails, could muzzle the watchdog charged with policing campaign finance and disclosure in Georgia. Politicians could obscure details of countless dollars in campaign spending simply by using a personal credit card and getting reimbursed with campaign funds.

Fox5: Ethics lawyer sees politics in Handel probe

September 27, 2013 --

Over at Fox 5, Dale Russell reported Wednesday night on an allegation that politics is behind a push to reopen an ethics investigation of U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel. The state ethics commission settled three complaints against Handel in April with dismissals and her payment of a $75 late filing fee. Now, Russell reports, ethics […]

Lobbyists, candidates get little reprieve from $3.5M in late fees

April 11, 2012 --

April 11, 2012 — Dozens of Georgia lobbyists and political candidates may get relief from fines assessed for filing their financial disclosures late. Thousands more, the state Campaign Finance Commission decided today, will get no such reprieve.

Complaint against Deal, ethics chair dismissed

April 6, 2012 --

By JIM WALLS State officials, based on an opinion of the attorney general, have dismissed a complaint challenging former chairman Patrick Millsaps’ service on the state Campaign Finance Commission. Millsaps – reappointed after completing his term by Gov. Nathan Deal last year– headed the commission last spring when it slashed its top administrator’s pay by […]

Did automated audits replace Georgia’s ethics auditors? Nope.

Did automated audits replace Georgia's ethics auditors? Nope.
March 28, 2012 --

Former state ethics official Rick Thompson says Georgia doesn’t need all the auditors and investigators it once had because auditing of politicians’ financial disclosures is now automated. This would seem to refute some of my recent findings about weak ethics enforcement in Georgia.

Except, of course, that it’s not true.

State can’t explain ‘unexplained’ purchase by ethics agency

March 21, 2012 --

Tying Up Loose Ends: The Georgia Secretary of State has no record of an allegedly “unexplained” purchase for $4,965 that was said to suggest financial mismanagement at the state ethics commission. Without documentation, we may never know what that purchase was for, or whether it really happened. Here’s why …

Lawmakers to ethics panel: We don’t need no stinkin’ late fees

December 14, 2011 --

Dec. 14, 2011 — Remember the Georgia Legislature’s promise last year to impose tough new penalties for violators of campaign finance laws? Not gonna happen — at least not yet.

Starting this year, candidates could be fined $1,375 for filing a financial disclosure 45 days late. But legislators didn’t provide the money to pay for late notices, so the maximum fine for now is just $125.

Ethics panel changes course, wants its own lawyer after all

October 11, 2011 --

The State Campaign Finance Commission has changed its mind and wants to hire a staff attorney after all, four months after firing its last one. The difference is, this one won’t make more than $55,000 a year and won’t be named Sherilyn Streicker, whose job was eliminated by the commission in June.

Lobbyists named as finalists for top job at campaign finance panel

Lobbyists named as finalists for top job at campaign finance panel
August 10, 2011 --

Two lobbyists are finalists for the top job at the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission, the panel said today. The nominees for executive secretary are: Holly LaBerge, director of government relations for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, and Jerry Presley, a career public servant who lobbied for the Council for Quality Growth in 2008.