Ex-Rep. Ed Lindsey: Charter school point-man
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Leaders in the public sector have plenty of resources to promote their political views, accomplishments and experience. Often the public record holds much more: personal and campaign finance disclosures, expense reports, and business, tax and court filings. Here’s what they show:
Edward H. Lindsey Jr. (R-Atlanta)
District 54 (Fulton County)
In 2012, Lindsey chaired Families for Better Public Schools, a political committee heavily funded by for-profit charter school interests to push for another avenue to launch such schools. He co-sponsored the House resolution placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot and, in 2013, authored a so-called “parent trigger” bill that would give families a way to virtually force conversion of a low-achieving school to a charter.
The committee was formed after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that a state agency set up to approve charters unconstitutionally usurped local control of public education. Georgia voters approved the amendment, 58 to 42 percent.
Families for Better Public Schools spent $2.3 million on polling and a pro-charter media campaign, employing a bi-partisan team of political consultants. They included Comm360, founded by Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and a member of the state ethics commission; Franklin Communications LLC, run by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s son, Cabral; the Peachtree Battle Group, founded by ex-Gov. Roy Barnes’ 2010 campaign manager, Chris Carpenter; and Glenlake Strategies’ Chip Lake, former top aide to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
The committee’s single biggest funder, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, donated $600,000. (The Walton Family Foundation has given millions more since 2009 to other pro-charter groups here: $2.7 million to Georgia Charter Schools Association, $450,000 to the Georgia Family Education and Research Council and $135,000 to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.)
The latter foundation works with the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute, chaired by Lindsey, to “train Georgia’s leaders to shape the public policy debate and to govern by adhering to conservative principles.” Its key policy areas include choice and accountability in education.
The American Legislative Exchange Council awarded “scholarships” totaling $2,445 to Lindsey in 2006 and 2008, records show. Corporate donors — including petroleum, pharmaceutical, utility, tobacco and health-care interests — funded the scholarships, which were meant to cover the costs of airfare and lodging to attend ALEC functions. The donations generally are not disclosed as lobbyist gifts, since ALEC does not have a registered lobbyist in Georgia.
- Ran for the state Senate in 2000, finishing third with 20 percent behind eventual winner Rusty Paul, a former state Republican chairman.
- Elected to the House in 2004, winning 61 percent of the vote in the Republican primary runoff. Chuck Eaton, now a member of the state Public Service Commission, ran third in that primary.
- Re-elected in 2006, 2008 and 2010 without opposition.
- Defeated Democratic candidate Lynn Brown McKinney in 2012 with 63 percent of the vote.
- Elected by House Republicans in December 2009 to be majority whip.
- Has announced his candidacy for the 11th District Congressional seat being vacated by Phil Gingrey.
- Appropriations (2009 – present; vice chairman for education, 2009)
- Education (2005 – present)
- Ethics (2011 – present)
- Industry & Labor (2005 – present)
- Judiciary (2005 – present)
- Rules (2011 – present)
- Ways and Means (2007 – 2008)
- Attorney; founding partner of Goodman McGuffey Lindsey and Johnson LLP. Clients have included a number of insurance companies as well as religious schools and institutions, ranging from Morningside Baptist Church and World Changers Ministries to the controversial south DeKalb preacher Earl Paulk, whom he defended in a civil suit alleging that he molested and raped an underage dancer in the church ministry. The suit was settled before trial, reportedly for at least $400,000.
Business ownership interests
- None disclosed.
- Partner, Goodman McGuffey Lindsey and Johnson LLP.
- Board chairman, Conservative Policy Leadership Institute.
- Board member, Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce.
- Former CEO & CFO, Families for Better Public Schools (political committee, disbanded December 2012).
- Lindsey’s wife, Elizabeth Green Lindsey, is a lawyer and shareholder at Davis, Matthews and Quigley PC.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Atlanta valued at $1,165,700.
- Lindsey’s wife is co-owner of a vacation property at Pine Knoll Shores, N.C.
- Cincinnati Financial Corp.
- Europacific Growth Fund
- Growth Fund America
- New Perspective Fund
- Washington Mutual Investment Fund
- Chipotle Mexican Grille Inc.
- Cliff’s Nat Resources Inc.
- Cummins Inc.
- Morgan Stanley NTS B/E
- Pimco Total Return Fund
- Powershares db Multi Sector Commodity Tr db Agriculture Fund
- TCW Emerging Markets Income Fund
Payments from state agencies
- Lindsey’s law firm did a little bit of work for the state Law Department before he was elected to the General Assembly. State records show the firm was paid $9,032 in FY2002, $30,035 in FY2004 and $16,738 in FY2005.
Friends and Family
- Elizabeth Green Lindsey, his wife, is an attorney whose practice areas include family law and civil litigation. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed her in 2004 and again in 2007 to the board of the state Department of Juvenile Justice. Perdue also named her in 2005 to a commission charged with rewriting the state’s Juvenile Code.
Donors have given Lindsey’s campaign committee more than $669,000 since 2004. Lindsey loaned his campaign committee an additional $66,000, all of which appears to have been paid back, in 2004. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2000: $88,425
- 2004: $137,420
- 2005-06: $53,175
- 2007-08: $43,425
- 2009-10: $135,432
- 2011-12: $194,450
- 2013: $17,000
- Reported cash on hand (July 2013): $49,628
- $14,250 attorneys of Butler Wooten & Fryhofer LLP, personal injury law firm
- $12,650 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (Civil Justice PAC)
- $10,000 fellow attorneys at Goodman McGuffey Lindsey and Johnson LLP
- $9,650 Georgia Hospital Association
- $9,400 American Federation for Children & Students First, advocates for charter schools
- $8,450 attorneys of Davis, Matthews & Quigley P.C., spouse’s law firm
- $8,200 UHS Pruitt Corp. & its lobbyist, Chris Downing, nursing homes
- $8,000 Select Management Resources LLC & an affiliated business, title pawn lender
- $7,000 Vesta Holdings & affiliate Rhea Investment Group, buyers & sellers of property tax liens
- $6,750 MAG Mutual Insurance Co., malpractice insurance
- $6,500 Stephen Andrews, attorney
- $6,500 BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia
- $6,500 Workplace Injury Network PAC
- $6,250 Medical Association of Georgia
- $6,200 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $6,000 Finch McCranie LLP
- $5,750 State Farm Insurance
- $5,700 Georgia Dental Association
- $5,250 Georgia Bankers Association
- $4,500 attorneys of Troutman Sanders LLP
Candidates may make political donations with campaign funds, allowing prolific fund-raisers to share their contributions with other legislators or candidates. Some advocacy groups believe such transfers should be limited to an aggregate of $10,000 per election cycle. Lindsey’s committee made these political donations:
- 2004: $0
- 2005-06: $12,675
- 2007-08: $16,500
- 2009-10: $74,950
- 2011-12 : $35,250
- 2013: $1,500
Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Lindsey valued at more than $21,000 since 2006. One of the biggest spenders was the University System of Georgia ($2,403), which took Lindsey and his wife to southern California in May 2012 to tour Georgia State University’s observatory there, at a cost of $1,216 (not counting airfare). He could have just asked for a report from Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones or her predecessor, Mark Burkhalter, who both visited the observatory on the state’s dime in 2009.
Other big spenders: the Georgia Chamber of Commerce ($2,529), the State Bar of Georgia ($2,125) and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority ($1,897). BFF lobbyist: Tom Lewis of Georgia State University ($1,655), organizer of the California trips to see the school’s telescope.
The breakdown by year:
- 2006: $1,174
- 2007: $2,004
- 2008: $1,553
- 2009: $3,491
- 2010: $5,313
- 2011: $4,683
- 2012: $3,563
- 2013: $959 through June 30
Committee days & travel expenses
When the Legislature is out of session, members may collect $173 per diem, plus mileage, for committee meetings or other official business. (Per diem was $127 prior to 2007.) Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, which were originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging. Here’s the annual breakdown, based on the year in which the expenses were paid:
- 2005: $668 (5 days)
- 2006: $2,324 (17 days)
- 2007: $7,306 (40 days)
- 2008: $6,789 (37 days)
- 2009: $9,992 (54 days) #10 in House
- 2010: $3,660 (20 days)
- 2011: $5,312 (29 days)
- 2012: $8,319 (45 days) #13 in House
- 2013: $5,530 (30 days)
- 2014: $180 (1 day)
— Researched by Nick Bradley and Jim Walls
Nick Bradley is a student reporter with The News Enterprise, an investigative reporting initiative of the Emory University Journalism Program.
Posted March 4, 2013; last updated Jan. 26, 2015