blow the whistle
$show the love

Rep. John Carson

Rep. John Carson
October 5, 2012 --

As a freshman legislator, Carson collected meals, football tickets and other gifts valued at more than $2,200 from lobbyists at the state Capitol.

Rep. Sam Teasley (HD 37)

Rep. Sam Teasley (HD 37)
October 4, 2012 --

Not bad for a freshman: Lobbyists did all right by Teasley in 2011, his first legislative session, treating him to dinners and other meals to the tune of $2,073. They’ve spent about $2,900 on him since then.

Rep. Paul Battles (HD 15): Undisclosed land deals

Rep. Paul Battles (HD 15): Undisclosed land deals
October 3, 2012 --

Paul Battles’ personal financial disclosures have omitted his role as trustee for two trusts established by his wife’s late aunt and uncle. One of them — Collins Charitable Remainder Unitrust — sold 6.5 acres in downtown Cartersville to the state Department of Transportation in 2011. Battles also did not disclose that transaction or the $2.2 million purchase price, which benefited local charities. “I didn’t think I had to do one for the trusts since I get no financial benefit from that,” he said. Battles’ family business owns 6.2 adjoining acres, zoned for commercial use.

Battles retired from Crescent Bank of Jasper in 2007 but remained on its board through 2009, as examiners were beginning to sound warnings that the bank needed to tighten lending practices and oversight by its board of directors. State regulators closed the bank in 2010 at a loss to federal insurers of $280 million. The FDIC, in a 2011 postmortem, blamed Crescent’s collapse on an aggressive growth strategy, a heavy concentration of speculative construction loans and the board’s and officers’ failure to effectively manage the associated risks.

FDIC’s 2011 postmortem said the bank violated FDIC appraisal standards, failed to vet prospective borrowers or to establish loan agreements to protect the bank’s investment, and renewed non-performing loans without proper safeguards. A 2009 cease and desist order cited eight pages of apparent law and policy violations that contained in a bank examiner’s report that has not been released publicly. The bank had already responded by toughening its risk management practices, but those corrections came too late. The FDIC’s inspector general later faulted the agency for not intervening sooner and more proactively.

Battles said the FDIC told bank officials they had done everything they could to keep Crescent open. “They said that we had gone above and beyond the call of duty trying to save the bank,” he said in an interview. “By the time we were trying to adjust, the dominoes had started falling. … We were fighting a foe that was bigger than all of us.”

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment
October 1, 2012 --

Oct. 1, 2012 — Sen. Jack Murphy collected $5,000 in May from his legislative expense account for a constituent newsletter that his campaign paid for, state records show. Murphy, who signed a sworn statement that he had paid for the newsletter personally, said the mix-up was inadvertent and that he has repaid his campaign account in full. An ethics watchdog says questions about this and other recently disclosed Senate expense reimbursements underscore a need for more scrutiny. “Senate leadership should come up with a plan to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen,” said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.

Rep. Tom McCall (HD 33)

Rep. Tom McCall (HD 33)
October 1, 2012 --

A veteran of 22 legislative sessions, McCall has served all of that time on the House Agriculture Committee, which he now chairs, and on Natural Resources, and all two of those years on the House Transportation Committee. Those memberships have attracted campaign donations from tobacco company Philip Morris, veterinarians, Kraft Foods, the billboard industry and highway contractors.

McCall was one of three House conferees in 2012 who endorsed a last-minute proposal to allow the state ethics commission to seal closed investigative files involving legislators and other politicians. The commission could have barred public access to a file if it found only a technical violation of the law, or none at all, thus denying public oversight of the propriety of those findings. The amendment, attached to an unrelated bill about hunting and fishing licenses, cleared the Senate with barely an hour left in the 2012 legislative session but was defeated 143-25 in the House.