Top 3 PACs gave $1M to Ga. politicians
By JIM WALLS
Jan. 14, 2013 — Trial lawyers, dentists and Realtors — perhaps Georgians’ three most-beloved professions — had the deepest pockets as state legislators convened today for 2013, an analysis of campaign disclosures shows. Between them, trade groups for those three professions donated more than $1.1 million to Georgia politicians and parties over the past two years.
Those totals don’t count contributions made since Jan. 1, which won’t be disclosed until July — long after the General Assembly has adjourned. Lawmakers may not accept donations during the legislative session, so they like to hold fund-raisers in the week or two beforehand, which also happens to be when special interests’ lobbyists are preparing to push their own agendas. It’s win-win on both sides of the equation.
Sometimes, political fund-raisers and lobbyists are one and the same, as was Dave Simons of Savannah when he organized David Ralston’s first fund-raiser as speaker of the House in 2010. (Simons, by the way, is no longer a registered lobbyist.)
Among this year’s top donors, trial lawyers are watching for any effort to bring up any sort of so-called “tort reform” that could depress damage claims. Dentists are always looking to improve insurance coverage for their services. Realtors focus on a range of issues, from limiting local governments’ attempts to registered foreclosed properties to blocking a proposal to levy a sales tax on their commissions.
Members of other trusted occupations and institutions — including insurance salesman, title pawn lenders, lobbyists and the phone company — were also among Georgia’s biggest political donors in the 2011-12. Most limit online access to their legislative agendas, but we’ve linked below to a few of their webpages where you can get some sense of their activity in past legislative sessions.
The following list may unintentionally exclude a few of Georgia’s biggest spenders. We’ll make sure to include them as we refine and expand the information:
Georgia’s Big Bucks political donors
- $440,350 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $358,600 Georgia Dental Association
- $306,550 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $272,230 Troutman Sanders LLP & its attorneys (lobbyists)
- $264,275 Georgia Hospital Association
- $256,050 Georgia Apartment Association
- $220,175 Georgia Optometric Association
- $191,850 Georgia Health Care Association (nursing homes)
- $181,900 Select Management Resources & CEO Rod Aycox (title pawn lender)
- $162,600 Georgia Credit Union League
- $158,550 Workplace Injury Network
- $152,350 United Parcel Service
- $149,000 AT&T
- $134,550 Aflac
- $127,100 State Farm Insurance