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.
Attorney General Sam Olens – who’s taking on a larger role in investigations of public officials, political action committees and lobbyists — has raised more than a third of his campaign money from public officials, PACs, lobbyists and their clients. Donors include parties in high-profile inquiries into possible misuse of campaign funds or receipt of improper contributions.“There is always a potential for a conflict,” acknowledged Josh Belinfante, vice chairman of the campaign finance commission, “but I don’t think … that means a conflict exists.”
Ethics probes involving Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston and former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine are in limbo today as the attorneys conducting those investigations look for new jobs. Stacey Kalberman and Sherilyn Streicker, the top two staffers at the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, learned last week they must clean out their desks by June 30.
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.
The State Ethics Commission in coming months will talk to the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House about their alleged ethics violations. At roughly the same time, the agency’s leadership will ask these very same officials for more money to fulfill its mission and to restore powers that have been stripped away in recent years. This would make sense in only two places: the Georgia Capitol and Alice’s Wonderland. You can decide where the hatter is madder.
A Georgia insurance company had no inkling that $120,000 in political donations would wind up almost immediately in the campaign of Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, the State Ethics Commission was told Thursday. The commission is considering whether to advance or dismiss an ethics case against the company and an affiliate, both run by Delos W. Yancey III, a friend and hunting buddy of Oxendine’s. No decision is expected until early next year.
The other shoe dropped Tuesday at the State Ethics Commission, as the agency’s lone remaining full-time attorney resigned. Tom Plank, a lawyer there since 2007 and the agency’s top administrator earlier this year, quit to take another job. Colleagues said Plank dropped off his resignation letter and left without saying what that job would be.
The State Ethics Commission has every right to issue subpoenas as it investigates ethics allegations against gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine, a judge ruled today. The decision clears the way for investigators to get a better idea of any communication between 10 Alabama political action committees and the source of $120,000 in apparently illegal political contributions.
Sen. Ralph Hudgens says he loaned his campaign the money to pay for two weeks of TV ads but neglected to file the necessary last-minute disclosures. The Madison County Republican, a candidate for state insurance commissioner, says he could file complaints against several opponents if he chose, but “I want to honor Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment of ‘Speak no ill of your Republican brothers.'”
Ralph Hudgens‘ bid for Georgia insurance commissioner has returned $106,600 in contributions that were transferred improperly last year from his state Senate campaign fund. Hudgens said he’s signed a consent order to resolve an ethics complaint on the matter that would not impose a financial penalty. “No fines, no anything,” he said. UPDATE: Maria Sheffield, another Republican running for insurance commissioner, today attacked Hudgens for his handling of the improper transfer.
House Speaker David Ralston today named Brunswick attorney Hillary S. Stringfellow to fill a 5-month-old vacancy on the State Ethics Commission, just in time for a hearing on charges against Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. Attorneys’ challenge to the impartiality of two members could have left the ethics panel one member short of a quorum to hear the Oxendine matter.