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McDonald paid 20K in 2008 — but to whom?


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 and told a judge he’d made good-faith efforts to correct them.

But an examination of campaign records turned up questions about more than $20,000 in payments last summer, including a $15,000 loan to the campaign on June 2 that was repaid July 29.

The campaign reported that the loan came from the candidate but was repaid to his son, Lauren W. McDonald III. He told AtlantaUnfiltered this morning that he, not his son, made the loan and was repaid for it.

“It never was from him because he never had that much money to start with,” he joked.

But in a debate last October, McDonald did not dispute a questioner’s statement about $20,000 in payments to the candidate’s son.

“The only thing that has been paid has just been reimbursements,” he said at the time. “There was a loan early on, a $15,000 loan that was loaned to the campaign. It’s been paid back.”

The debate may be viewed here on the Atlanta Press Club’s Web Site (if you have a PC. It wouldn’t play on my Mac.) McDonald’s comments on the payments came about 30 minutes in.

A $15,000 loan from McDonald’s son would have far exceeded the legal limit of $5,900. A spouse or dependent child may make a larger loan to a candidate’s campaign; the younger McDonald, a licensed funeral director since 1996, is the three-term elected coroner of Forsyth County.

McDonald also said today that the campaign reimbursed him, not his son, $5,435 for campaign expenses last July. The campaign reported the son was reimbursed for that amount, also on July 29.

McDonald said there is continued confusion between the two because their names are so similar. The campaign reported $20,435 in payments were made to his son, but listed the recipient’s occupation as “candidate for PSC.”

McDonald’s campaign failed to itemize the expenses for which he said he was reimbursed. He is facing a fine for similar omissions in his 2002 campaign reports, just part of a $24,850 fine recommended by the staff of the State Ethics.

At a hearing last week on the 2002 case, McDonald acknowledged that he failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in contributions, reimbursed himself without specifying the recipients of the money, and falsely reported a zero bank balance when his campaign fund actually had more than $8,000.

But he said the proposed fine was too steep and he would rather pay a penalty of $5,000. An administrative law judge is expected to rule in a month or so.





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