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Jan. 25-Feb. 3, 2013

February 4, 2013 --

Investigators: Fulton election documents were altered Opinion: GA’s back-door voucher program riddled with deception Metal detectors were inoperable during Price Middle shooting DeKalb political donations under scrutiny Ethics reform could cost citizen advocates Plant Scherer pollution claims prompt wave of lawsuits Money in waste funds is tug-of-war between counties, state Ex-Speaker Terry Coleman arrested with […]

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.

May 22

May 22, 2012 --

Lax enforcement in personal care homes ACLU alleges right violations at several state detention centers Governor’s appointee quits over state lease Public money finds back do0r to private schools Conservative groups challenge House speaker on ethics Chattahoochee makes ‘most endangered’ list Common Cause cites cost hikes, political donations from airport vendors Report: Gwinnett animal shelter euthanized […]

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.

Spotlight on Don Balfour’s $29K condo, 123 committee days

Spotlight on Don Balfour's $29K condo, 123 committee days
February 6, 2012 --

Sen. Don Balfour in 2011 spent more than $29,000 given to him by political supporters to rent a downtown Atlanta condo that he could use year-round. For eight-plus months of the year, though, records indicate he drove home to Snellville, rather than stay in the condo, on each of the 103 days that he worked on public business. Most of those days were charged to a committee — Rules — that never met.

Pardon applicants benefit from friends in high places (like Jack Kingston)

Pardon applicants benefit from friends in high places (like Jack Kingston)
December 6, 2011 --

Dale Critz Jr. had millions riding on his bid for a presidential pardon. Scion of a prominent family in Savannah, Critz was poised to inherit the luxury car dealerships his grandfather had built. But Critz’s past blocked his way. Years earlier in Florida, he pleaded guilty to a felony for his part in a scheme to falsify loan documents for low-income car buyers. The conviction could have prevented him from owning the family business. So in late 2000, Critz embarked on a campaign for forgiveness, enlisting the help of Republican Rep. Jack Kingston, a family friend, Georgia neighbor, and regular recipient of political donations from Critz and his family.

State Ethics Commission dives down the rabbit hole — again

State Ethics Commission dives down the rabbit hole -- again
December 6, 2010 --

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.

Insurance firms: ‘No control’ over $120K donated to Oxendine

Insurance firms: 'No control' over $120K donated to Oxendine
December 3, 2010 --

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.

2 DeKalb housing officials face ethics probe over donations

2 DeKalb housing officials face ethics probe over donations
September 16, 2010 --

Two DeKalb County housing officials face an ethics inquiry into their requests for charitable and political donations from a developer doing business with their agency. An Oct. 19 hearing is scheduled for Dorothy Williams and former state Rep. George Maddox, both members of the DeKalb County Housing Authority’s board, who asked developer Dave Dixon to give to various causes. Dixon said he or his business gave them each $2,500 for a total of $5,000.

Developer’s PAC reports gift to speaker, silent on other donations

May 11, 2009 --

By JIM WALLS May 11, 2009 — A Georgia-based political fund has amended a disclosure report to include a $1,000 gift last year to the campaign account of House Speaker Glenn Richardson. But the fund, registered as The Funds for Georgia’s Future, still has not reported another $72,000 given to lawmakers and other political causes […]

Missouri developer’s PAC made $123,000 in political donations with no disclosure

Missouri developer's PAC made $123,000 in political donations with no disclosure
May 4, 2009 --

By JIM WALLS May 4, 2009 — A Georgia-based political action committee gave $123,000 in political donations in the 2008 election cycle without reporting them, Atlanta Unfiltered has learned. The PAC is funded primarily by a Missouri developer, Jeffrey E. Smith (right), whose companies receive state and federal tax credits to build low-income housing in […]

Where did the money go?

March 23, 2009 --

By JIM WALLS March 23, 2009 — State Rep. Pam Stephenson has failed to report more than $27,000 in political donations from special-interest groups since 2003, records show. A pending state ethics complaint alleges the DeKalb County Democrat apparently failed to disclose about $20,000 in contributions. The complaint did not specify the source of the […]