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Alphabet soup: A guide to special interests in Georgia

Alphabet soup: A guide to special interests in Georgia
September 12, 2012 --

Unraveling campaign finance and lobbyist spending reports can be difficult if you don’t know the lingo. Trade associations frequently create political action committees (PACs) with names that mask, intentionally or not, the special interests behind them. Others are known only by obscure acronyms; some use the same acronym. So, as we continue to shine a light on special interests’ influence in Georgia, we’ve compiled this quick guide to who’s who among the PACs

Graves, Rogers on hook for $1.5M after sale of ‘Meth 6’ motel

Graves, Rogers on hook for $1.5M after sale of 'Meth 6' motel
September 5, 2012 --

CALHOUN, Sept. 5, 2012 — The notorious “Meth 6” motel here has sold in foreclosure for pennies on the dollar, potentially clearing the way for lenders to pursue two Georgia lawmakers for a defaulted loan. On Aug. 16, after the abandoned motel brought $370,000, a Gordon County judge signed an order allowing a bank to seek payment on the rest of a $1.88 million debt from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and Sen. Chip Rogers. Graves says the order is merely a formality.

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.

A look back: Pressure, dysfunction at GA ethics commission

A look back: Pressure, dysfunction at GA ethics commission
August 29, 2012 --

For a decade, infighting, vitriol and litigation has been business as usual at Georgia’s state ethics commission. Three executive directors have resigned or been fired since 2006. Two other employees collected $405,000 in damages for allegedly wrongful termination. Lawmakers stripped the agency of 40 percent of its funding, its power to make new rules, even its name. Much of this has come to pass, critics say, because the commission answers to the very politicians it’s supposed to regulate and investigate. Legislative leaders set its budget, control its powers and, along with the governor, decide who its five members will be. It’s time, former ethics chief Teddy Lee says, for a truly independent commission. “It’s got to be set up in a way that it can’t be manipulated,” says Lee, “by people who have no desire to be overseen or second-guessed.”

McKoon: Censure Balfour, remove him as Rules chair

McKoon: Censure Balfour, remove him as Rules chair
August 21, 2012 --

Aug. 20, 2012 — Josh McKoon has called on his Senate colleagues to censure Don Balfour and remove him as chairman of that chamber’s Rules Committee for filing false expense reports.

Salary du jour: Red & Black publisher Harry Montevideo, $189,545

Salary du jour: Red & Black publisher Harry Montevideo, $189,545
August 17, 2012 --

Aug. 17, 2012 — If there’s a better way to piss off students and journalists than letting a condescending adman tell students how to run their newspaper, I can’t imagine what it would be. That, I would guess, is why UGA’s Harry Montevideo makes the big bucks. Montevideo — publisher of the Red & Black, whose key editorial staffers walked out this week — collected nearly $190,000 in salary a year ago from the non-profit that runs the student paper, tax records show.

House Dem leader reports some, not all, undisclosed donations

House Dem leader reports some, not all, undisclosed donations
July 29, 2012 --

July 29, 2012 — Rep. Rashad Taylor, deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus, filed the first financial disclosure for his 2012 campaign at 9 p.m. last night, three weeks after it was due. The filing included $9,100 in previously undisclosed donations, but he still hasn’t accounted for more than $15,000 that other candidates and political committees say they’ve given him since 2009.

Real estate, contractors top TSPLOST’s $8M donor list

Real estate, contractors top TSPLOST's $8M donor list
July 24, 2012 --

(Updated July 26, 2012 with another $2 million in donations) Advocates promoting the “Untie Atlanta” campaign for a transportation sales tax have raised nearly $6 million, topped by donations from real estate interests and highway contractors, newly released disclosures show. Four of the top six cash donors — the National Association of Realtors, the Georgia Highway Contractors Association, heavy equipment suppliers Yancey Brothers Co. and C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. — kicked in $981,000 among them.

Ethics panel drops Deal complaints, settles others for $3,350

July 23, 2012 --

July 23, 2012 — Gov. Nathan Deal has agreed to pay $3,350 in “administrative fees” after state investigators found dozens of minor violations in his 2010 campaign finance disclosures. In one consent order accepted this morning, Deal acknowledged 53 violations in reports on individual disclosures, which are considered “technical defects” under Georgia law. Generally, examples of technical defects include omitting a donor’s employer or full address or the purpose of an expenditure.

Whistleblower: Ex-ethics deputy denied interview for new job

Whistleblower: Ex-ethics deputy denied interview for new job
June 14, 2012 --

By JIM WALLS Sherry Streicker was told her job at the state ethics commission went away last year because of budget issues, not her performance. But when a new position opened there with nearly identical duties, she says in a new whistleblower suit, she couldn’t even get in the door for an interview. Streicker and […]

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.

Facility Group pays Miss. $3.9M for beef plant boo-boos

Facility Group pays Miss. $3.9M for beef plant boo-boos
April 17, 2012 --

April 17, 2012 — A Smyrna construction firm whose top executives served time in connection with an illegal campaign donation in Mississippi settled a related $3.9 million damage claim Monday. The Facility Group paid the damages for defective construction of a Mississippi beef processing plant.