blow the whistle
$show the love

1-year limit may scuttle state ethics cases

1-year limit may scuttle state ethics cases
December 13, 2010 --

Robb Pitts is off the hook for accepting $45,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2001, thanks to a Fulton County judge, Kimberly Adams, who ruled the statute of limitations had expired. Now lawyers are attempting to apply the judge’s ruling to other cases more than a year old. The AG’s office says the potential precedent could be devastating to enforcement of ethics laws in Georgia.

AG asked: Does law limit candidates’ donations to other campaigns?

AG asked: Does law limit candidates' donations to other campaigns?
August 25, 2010 --

Attorney General Thurbert Baker has been asked to opine on whether political campaigns may make unlimited financial contributions to other campaigns. A decision by the State Ethics Commission last week raised the possibility that unopposed candidates with fat campaign accounts could give unlimited amounts to candidates in close races, creating a legal path to circumvent contribution limits.

Fulton judge clears way for Oxendine ethics hearing

Fulton judge clears way for Oxendine ethics hearing
July 16, 2010 --

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.

Hudgens discloses $100K loan to campaign, admits oversight

Hudgens discloses $100K loan to campaign, admits oversight
July 14, 2010 --

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.'”

Hudgens’ campaign returns $106K improperly shifted from Senate race

Hudgens' campaign returns $106K improperly shifted from Senate race
June 30, 2010 --

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.

Ethics board gains work; staffing stays the same

June 14, 2010 --

Four powerful Georgia lawmakers each reported getting a $2,300 campaign donation from one of Georgia’s largest title-pawn lenders in 2008, but the donor never disclosed giving the money. The lender disclosed a $2,300 donation to then-state Rep. Stan Watson – but the lawmaker never reported getting it. For that matter, Watson never disclosed what happened with $45,000 from his […]

Will GA lawmakers tighten oversight of PAC spending?

February 8, 2010 --

Political action committees in Georgia operate with little oversight. They don’t have to report spending that’s not campaign-related. Nothing in campaign law addresses how PACs spend their money, the State Ethics Commission observed in 2008. “We did some advisory opinions because we were hoping people would get outraged enough and push for legislation,” said Rick Thompson, the agency’s former executive secretary. It hasn’t worked so far. Georgia lawmakers are sifting through a slew of ethics bills, but none address PAC spending.

Richardson’s PAC files as tax-exempt, but is it in time?

Richardson's PAC files as tax-exempt, but is it in time?
February 4, 2010 --

Glenn Richardson‘s political action committee registered as tax-exempt Tuesday, but it’s not clear whether that will defuse an investigation into his transfer of $219,915 in leftover campaign cash to the committee. The State Ethics Commission is looking into the payment of that money from Richardson’s campaign account to the MMV Alliance Fund on New Year’s Eve. The question is: Would a tax-exempt filing in February allow MMV to accept a couple hundred thousand dollars in campaign money five weeks earlier?

Ethics agency probing ex-speaker’s $220K fund transfer

Ethics agency probing ex-speaker's $220K fund transfer
February 2, 2010 --

Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s transfer of nearly $220,000 to the MMV Alliance Fund, a political committee under his control, is now the focus of a state investigation. The State Ethics Commission opened the inquiry Jan. 27 because MMV does not appear to be among the groups allowed to accept excess campaign funds.

State ethics watchdog wants more applicants for top job

State ethics watchdog wants more applicants for top job
October 21, 2009 --

The State Ethics Commission voted today to reopen applications for its top administrative job and to interview three finalists at its Dec. 16 meeting. The commission interviewed three candidates last week but decided to solicit more applicants for the post. “We uniformly thought they were of very high quality,” commission member William Jordan said, “but there were none right now that we were ready to extend an offer to.”

Ex-speaker to settle condo ethics charge for $2,900

Ex-speaker to settle condo ethics charge for $2,900
September 28, 2009 --

Former Georgia House speaker Terry Coleman has tentatively settled — for $2,900 — an ethics charge that he used campaign money to buy a condo. Coleman’s campaign made $38,120 in payments on the unit, a practice ruled improper by the State Ethics Commission in 2004. Coleman later reimbursed the campaign, but an ethics complaint on the matter has been pending since 2002. “My lawyer called and said they had come up with some sort of settlement,” he said Friday. “I wrote the check.”

Ex-House speaker pays $3,758 tax bill with campaign funds

Ex-House speaker pays $3,758 tax bill with campaign funds
September 9, 2009 --

Former Georgia House Speaker Terry Coleman used $3,758 in left-over campaign funds to pay a property tax bill in Henry County. Coleman’s latest campaign disclosure, filed Friday evening, shows he made the payment May 14. State law forbids using campaign money for personal benefit. Taxes are generally regarded as a personal expense.