Taxes, loans were reported subjects of feds’ Deal investigation
By JIM WALLS
Dec. 8, 2011 – Federal prosecutors were reportedly investigating tax and loan issues regarding Gov. Nathan Deal as recently as June, newly disclosed documents show.
References to the federal inquiry, and details on a state investigation of Deal’s campaign finances, are revealed in a case file recently closed by Georgia Inspector General Deron Hicks. Hicks’ office, after looking into a charge that the governor pressed to get the state ethics commission’s top two investigators fired, said it found no information to support the allegation.
Federal law enforcement agencies typically do not acknowledge pending investigations, and they did not today. The Office of U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates declined to comment.
A federal grand jury in 2010 was reported to have subpoenaed witnesses and documents concerning Deal’s Gainesville auto salvage business. A subpoena showed the grand jury wanted to know more about a private conversation between Deal and state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham as they met to discuss the business’ exclusive arrangement to host state inspections of salvaged trucks and automobiles.
Deal’s attorney, Randy Evans, said at the time that the governor was not the target of a federal investigation. Evans did not respond today to a request for comment.
The inspector general’s case file, which became public once its inquiry was closed, references the state ethics investigation of Deal as well as the federal probe. In a memorandum on one of its interviews, the OIG’s office reported this from Sherilyn Streicker, formerly the state’s lead ethics investigator in the Deal case:
“Streicker told OIG that during the course of her investigation, she and [commission director Stacey] Kalberman also conferred with the US Attorney’s office, who was investigating two different things involving Governor Deal involving tax records and financial dealings with loans. As a result, [Streicker] told OIG that the U.S. Attorney’s Office ‘encouraged us to go forward on campaign finance investigation’ and indicated they were interested in the findings.”
The file contains no other details on the nature of the federal inquiry. Streicker’s job was eliminated in June and Kalberman’s pay cut by nearly a third, leading to her resignation.
Questions about Deal’s taxes as well as undisclosed loans both came up during his 2010 campaign for governor.
In March 2010, a congressional investigation noted discrepancies between Deal’s financial records for 2008 regarding $75,000 in income from the salvage business, according to news reports. Deal’s federal tax return listed that sum as wages, while his congressional disclosure lists it as dividend income. Members of Congress at the time were forbidden from earning more than $25,830 in outside income.
Deal paid taxes equivalent to about 2 percent of his income in 2006 and 2007, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year after reviewing partial tax records released by his campaign.
Questions about $2.85 million in undisclosed business loans also dogged Deal’s 2010 campaign. Deal left the loans off his state (and federal) financial disclosures, then amended his state disclosure to report them, then amended his disclosure again a week later to report more assets.