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Unopposed legislators collect $530K in 2nd quarter



More than 90 state lawmakers — and one newcomer — collected $530,000 in campaign contributions this spring even though they will coast to election in November without a fight, an analysis of campaign records shows. More than half of that cash flowed to just 10 of them.

Even if they are unopposed, politicians in Georgia may raise campaign money to pay for filing fees, ads, campaign literature, postage and the like. They may also donate it to charity or other candidates or pay expenses related to holding office, which may include travel, meals, cellphone charges and apartment rentals in Atlanta during the annual legislative session.

(As Unfiltered noted in April, some rent some pretty sweet cribs.)

House Speaker David Ralston, not surprisingly, collected about 12 percent of the total for unopposed legislators in the second quarter, our analysis shows. (Counting his $63,325 for the second quarter, Ralston has raised $200,000 since Republicans chose him as speaker in December.)

Otherwise, powerful committee leaders topped the list of well-funded but unopposed incumbents:

  • House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin, $55,935
  • Rep. Mickey Channell, Harbin’s second-in-command at Appropriations, $34,880.
  • Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, $31,975.
  • Jack Hill, the Senate appropriations chairman, $28,075.
  • Former Senate Majority Whip Mitch Seabaugh, $23,210. Seabaugh resigned his leadership position in April after breaking ranks with Senate Republicans on a tax vote.
  • Rep. Don Parsons, chair of the Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, $19,130.
  • Rep. Barbara Sims, deputy majority whip in the House, $16,550.
  • Sen. Cecil Staton, an Appropriations Committee member, $16,275.

Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley, who is unopposed in her bid to assume Rep. Mark Burkhalter’s seat, was the only non-incumbent in the top 10. Freshmen rarely get powerful committee jobs, but donors helped her anyway to the tune of $19,050.

All figures reflect cash and in-kind contributions collected in the second quarter of 2010.  Five unopposed incumbents have yet to file  second-quarter disclosures, which were due June 8: Sens. Tim Golden and Freddie Sims, and Reps. Simone Bell, Earnest Smith and Pam Stephenson.





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One Response to “Unopposed legislators collect $530K in 2nd quarter”

  1. Jim Coonan says:

    It’s important not to toss all fundraising by unopposed incumbents into the “take the money & run” file. Granted, much of it is quite simply corrupt. On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons to raise the money. One reason that I think we progressives who believe in good government can support is this: to cover the costs of communicating with and hearing from a broad range of constituents. We WANT our legislators to keep us informed, and by “us” I mean their constituents in general, not just a few activists and lobbyists. We WANT our legislators to provide effective means to hear from us, and again by “us” I mean their constituents in general, not just a few activists and lobbyists. It doesnt’t take much money (if any) to communicate with those handfuls of activists and lobbyists. On the other hand, it takes a lot of money (direct mail, phoning, websites, meetings, staff) to communicate with and hear from constituents in general. It’s naive to think that shoe leather alone suffices.
    If we think that part of good government is that sort of give-and-take between constituents and elected officials, then we need to understand that someone has to pay for it.
    It’s not enough just to look at the dollars in the disclosures. How, who, why, and what for matters, too.