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Dec. 24-30, 2012

December 30, 2012 --

  How Georgia waged war on its poorest citizens Metro counties sue subprime lender claiming loss of tax base DeKalb school board member: Audit shows ‘troubled’ system Audit: Gaps in Ga. driver records put safety, money at risk Chatham County corner resigned as $200K+ in expenses questioned Gift ban may end legislators’ free football tickets […]

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: $970,300 a year

NRA's Wayne LaPierre: $970,300 a year
December 24, 2012 --

Dec. 24, 2012 — Wayne LaPierre didn’t say so, but the pro-gun spokesmodel has 970,000 reasons to stand firm against restrictions on automatic weapons like those used to slaughter 27 schoolchildren and teachers in Newtown, Conn. That’s how much the National Rifle Association paid LaPierre, its CEO and executive vice president for two decades, in 2010.

Dec. 17-23, 2012

December 24, 2012 --

  Loophole let Gwinnett commissioner’s firm do business with county DeKalb schools put on probation DeKalb DA looking at SACS report Lawyer: Bibb school system harmed whistleblower again DOT: Maynard Jackson’s widow should keep disadvantaged business status Fulton judge voids Atlanta’s public vending contract Who’s polluting in Georgia? (with interactive map!) Judge dismisses Common Cause […]

Dec. 10-16

December 17, 2012 --

Immigration courts inside prisons, far from public view Georgia sex offender tracking falls off Camden County judge enters guilty pleas, then resigns Stockbridge City Council ousts mayor DeKalb Co. commissioner won’t be charged with DUI Grady Co. judge accused of misconduct

Dec. 3-9

December 10, 2012 --

Suits allege wrongful baby deaths at S. Fulton Medical Center Fulton Development Authority’s outside contracts questioned Fulton proposal to fix jail locks fails when Lowe shows up 3 hours late Whistleblowers say dialysis firm bilked Medicare Governor called meeting to discuss senator’s new GPB job Audit: Lax gas-card controls costing ATL big bucks Dunwoody ethics […]

House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal

House Majority Leader Larry O'Neal
December 7, 2012 --

Larry O’Neal would probably prefer to be remembered for anything other than a tax break seemingly engineered specifically for then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, a client of O’Neal’s law practice. Nevertheless, O’Neal is best known for authoring the 2005 bill that allowed his fellow Houston Countian to retroactively shelter capital gains by reinvesting the money in property in Florida. Perdue, who thus saved about $100,000 in taxes, said he signed the bill into law without realizing it would apply to him. IRS auditors later investigated and exonerated O’Neal, he said in a 2009 email to House Republicans. Neither Perdue nor O’Neal released IRS documents or correspondence that would back up that assertion. A 2007 ethics complaint about O’Neal’s conduct went nowhere.

O’Neal went into business with another Sonny from Houston County, former state Rep. Roy “Sonny” Watson Jr., in 2001 when they formed SONLAR LLC. In 2005, Sonlar bought a 61-unit assisted-living facility at auction for $2.5 million after the previous owner defaulted on revenue bonds issued by the Houston County Development Authority. SONLAR sold the property in August 2012 for $5.1 million.

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones
December 4, 2012 --

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, it would appear, is a giver. Her campaign committee since 2007 has donated $379,000 — nearly half of the funds it raised during that period — to other campaigns and political organizations. That’s more than any House member other than Speaker David Ralston and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal. Like most other campaign donors, though, she likes a sure thing, contributing almost exclusively to incumbents who would decide whether she would hold a leadership position in the House.

Georgia’s two largest title-pawn lenders represent the largest single special-interest sector among Jones’ political donors. Select Management Resources, TitleMax and their CEOs — who have lobbied to keep Georgia’s regulation of the industry among the weakest in the U.S. — have given more than $33,000 to her campaign.

Playing the odds: The rise of Sen. Chip Rogers

Playing the odds: The rise of Sen. Chip Rogers
December 4, 2012 --

Dec. 5, 2012 — Sen. Chip Rogers resigned Tuesday, a month after winning re-election, to take a job at Georgia Public Broadcasting. For those curious about what might have led to his decision — or those just looking for a fascinating read — we re-present our exclusive May 25 report about Rogers’ prior broadcasting experience:

Years before Chip Rogers became majority leader in the Georgia Senate, the Woodstock Republican was “Will ‘The Winner’” Rogers, advising callers for a fee how to bet against the pointspread on pro and college football. Once billed as one of the nation’s “premier handicappers,” Rogers says today he was nothing more than on-air “talent” reading a script for a client. Our nine-month investigation – a collaboration with The News Enterprise, a student reporting initiative of Emory College’s Journalism Program – reveals how Rogers got started in the industry and how he met the veteran handicapper who would take a $2.2 million eyesore off his hands two decades later.

Nov. 26-Dec. 2

December 2, 2012 --

  Fake medical providers slip through Medicare loophole Angel Food Ministry case bogged down by millions of pages of documents Some Augusta voters use vacant lots as registration address Is Imperial Sugar off the hook with feds? State inspector general makes four cases a year Audit: DOT lax in verifying businesses as disadvantaged Fayette spends […]

Bill Hembree has a Wayback Money Machine

Bill Hembree has a Wayback Money Machine
November 26, 2012 --

Nov. 26, 2012 — Legally, Georgians can’t spend campaign money raised for one political office to run for a different one. There’s a wide-open loophole, though, and veteran legislator Bill Hembree of Douglas County is only the latest to use it.
When Hembree left the Georgia House recently, he refunded $60,400 from his House campaign account to donors. Within a week, those same supporters gave all but $1,000 of the money back to Hembree to run for a just-opened Senate seat. Here’s the clever part: Rather than simply returning the most recent contributions, Hembree reached back as far as 11 years to choose the donors who got refunds.

Nov. 19-25

November 26, 2012 --

‘Bed tax’ a windfall for some hospitals, a loser for others Fulton Development Authority’s lavish spending questioned Legal logjam lets troubled cops keep their badges MARTA overtime spurs safety concerns Landfill owned by Deal’s friend violates county zoning Confusion, mistrust prevalent at private Macon academy New setup approved for Forsyth Co. ethics panel

Nov. 12-18

November 19, 2012 --

Atlanta Unfiltered’s Watchdog News report, after a hiatus of several months, is back today in a somewhat different format. Rather than a daily update, we will present a weekly Monday package of watchdog news from news outlets across Georgia. Please let us know if there’s something you think we missed. Georgia schools lay unequal foundation […]