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.
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.
A licensed real estate appraiser, Cooke’s top donors are executives with Chick-fil-a and East West Express Inc., a trucking company. Other donors include his employer, family members and Carrollton businessman Steve Adams.
Billing himself as a strict constitutionalist, Cooke in his first term co-sponsored a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment, which allows voters rather than state legislatures to select members of the U.S. Senate.
Sept. 26, 2012 — Rick Crawford was just nominated as a Democrat to serve another two-year term in the Georgia House, but he says he’s switching to the Republican Party if he wins re-election. Crawford, who had been pondering his party affiliation for a while, said the Democrats’ endorsement of same-sex marriage pushed him over the edge. “I thought, ‘My time here is done,'” he said. His timing precluded Democrats from fielding another nominee in 2012, but Crawford said there was no political calculation to his decision. (UPDATE: Georgia Democrats, based on this report, reportedly plan to try to get Crawford thrown off the Nov. 6 ballot.)
Sept. 26, 2012 — Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has reimbursed his campaign $8,500 even though his lawyer says he didn’t have to. The payment covers money that Rogers collected from his Senate expense account for costs paid by his campaign committee. Attorney Doug Chalmers said Rogers has loaned the campaign much more than that, but he cut the check “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
Barbara Massey Reece has reported collecting relatively modest sums of campaign contributions — less than $180,000 in 15 years of campaigning. Not surprisingly, since she hails from the same hometown as famed criminal defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook, Reece’s top campaign donors are trial lawyers.
Meadows said he worked hard during his first five years at the Capitol to build a campaign war chest of $41,000. Once he was named Insurance chair, he didn’t have to try so hard, collecting $77,000 in the summer and fall of 2010. Another $419,000 followed once he became Rules chair in 2011.
He’s given much of that away to other Republican candidates. “I have a lot more money than I ever thought I would,” he said.
Lobbyists, who spent less than $4,500 on Meadows in 2006-09, have lavished nearly $21,000 on meals, entertainment and other gifts for him since 2011.
Sept. 19, 2012 — Georgia taxpayers reimbursed Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers this year for $6,688 in expenses that appear to have been paid by his re-election committee. The Legislature also reimbursed him in 2003 and 2005 for $1,471 that his campaign had apparently paid. In each case, Rogers submitted a sworn statement that he had personally incurred those expenses. Senate expense accounts, at least until recently, have not been audited. UPDATE: Chip Rogers has since reimbursed his campaign $8,500 “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” even though the expenses were legitimate, his attorney says.
Paul Broun’s conflicting accounts of more than $300,000 in loans to his election campaign make him one of the most corrupt members of Congress, a Washington activist group says.
Unraveling campaign finance and lobbyist spending reports can be difficult if you don’t know the lingo. Trade associations frequently create political action committees (PACs) with names that mask, intentionally or not, the special interests behind them. Others are known only by obscure acronyms; some use the same acronym. So, as we continue to shine a light on special interests’ influence in Georgia, we’ve compiled this quick guide to who’s who among the PACs
Sept. 5, 2012 — State and federal agents seized documents and planned two arrests today in an investigation of alleged falsification and alteration of child-abuse intake reports in Muscogee County. Investigators are trying to determine whether reports were falsified to make it appear Georgia was opening abuse cases more quickly so DFCS could qualify for millions of federal dollars that had been withheld.
CALHOUN, Sept. 5, 2012 — The notorious “Meth 6” motel here has sold in foreclosure for pennies on the dollar, potentially clearing the way for lenders to pursue two Georgia lawmakers for a defaulted loan. On Aug. 16, after the abandoned motel brought $370,000, a Gordon County judge signed an order allowing a bank to seek payment on the rest of a $1.88 million debt from U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and Sen. Chip Rogers. Graves says the order is merely a formality.