Everyone should make resolutions for the New Year, if only to have new goals. In that spirit, we offer 10 suggestions for Georgia legislators to strengthen government ethics in 2011. Among them: Let’s make ex-Speaker Glenn Richardson the last legislator to transfer all his leftover campaign cash to a committee where he can spend it any way he wishes.
Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow just paid an ethics fine for spending $5,420 of taxpayers’ money to boost her 2009 re-election campaign. But taxpayers also picked up the tab for nearly $29,000 more in spending that promoted Winslow’s name in the final weeks before last year’s voting. The payments blurred the line drawn by the city’s Ethics Code to separate city-sponsored events and campaign activities. Winslow collected reimbursements from her city expense account for jazz musicians, a disc jockey, an inflatable bouncer, a popcorn machine and other equipment, plus $8,000 worth of barbecue and side dishes. Click here for my full story on ajc.com. Click here for supporting documents for this story.
Infighting and tax troubles threaten the future of a citizens’ group founded to improve the Summerhill community near Turner Field. The Summerhill Neighborhood Development Corp. has sued its founder, former state Rep. Douglas Dean, alleging he secretly pledged the nonprofit’s property to back $2.4 million in bank loans — now in default — to benefit a private developer. The non-profit, according to the suit, “now faces the very real possibility of losing substantially all of its real property assets.” In addition, federal tax records list $470,000 in unsecured, interest-free loans from the non-profit to Dean and his wife, and $50,000 to the group’s new CEO. Dean says those payments were reimbursements of money he loaned the non-profit over the years. IRS auditors could find little or no documentation for those debts.
The candidate who promises as attorney general to “aggressively raise the bar on ethics reform” is systematically skimping on reports of his own campaign expenditures. Sam Olens, former chairman of the Cobb County Commission, received more than $55,000 in unitemized reimbursements from campaign funds since January 2009, his disclosures show. But Olens’ reports do not reveal the end recipients of the spending, as required by the State Ethics Commission.
Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., facing a possible five-figure fine for breaking election finance laws in 2002, filed campaign finance reports with similar discrepancies in 2008, state records show. McDonald last week admitted dozens of violations in reporting the finances for his 2002 campaign. He blamed the mistakes on his campaign staff […]