Ex-Rep. Alisha Morgan: Undisclosed pro-charter job
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Leaders in the public sector have plenty of public 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:
Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell)
District 39 (Cobb County)
Alisha Morgan makes no secret of her support for charter schools or her affiliation with the pro-charter Black Alliance for Educational Options, noting it in several online biographies. But when she filed her personal financial disclosures with the state ethics commission in 2012, she neglected to mention that the alliance had been paying her.
Morgan joined the alliance’s board in 2010, stepping down in September 2011 when the alliance hired her for a salaried job as director of its Bailey-Sullivan Leadership Institute. Under her direction, the alliance announced, the institute:
“will work to recruit, train and support Black professional activists through its National Advocacy Fellowship and Emerging Leaders Education Action Network. Both programs will focus on recruitment and training of Black education choice activists; the latter will be aimed at college students and young adults under the age of 30. BSLI also will sponsor a yearlong fellowship to support the launch of Black-led education reform initiatives.”
Under Georgia law, candidates annually must disclose board membership or other fiduciary roles with businesses or non-profits, as well as their occupation and employer, as of Dec. 31 the previous year. Morgan noted the alliance job on her Facebook page, but her financial disclosures for 2010 and 2011 mentioned neither that job or her service on the organization’s board.
Following inquiries by Atlanta Unfiltered, campaign spokesman Stephen Alford responded in an email that Morgan was a full-time employee at BAEO for six months. She was not compensated for her prior service on the alliance’s board, he said.
“Alisha will review the disclosures and submit updates and/or additions, if necessary,” Alford wrote in a July 16 email. As of mid-October, she had not done so.
Morgan in 2012 co-sponsored a constitutional amendment allowing the state, not just local systems, to create charter schools. The previous year, she was still serving on the alliance’s board when it filed an amicus brief asking the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse its ruling that disbanded the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The court declined.
Coincidentally, Morgan served as a program manager at the People for the American Way, founded by TV producer Norman Lear, for several years early in her legislative career. The activist group took a few shots at the Black Alliance for Educational Options in 2001 and 2003 for accepting much of its funding from right-wing donors. “BAEO takes its place among the other think tanks and local organizations that have been created with money from right-wing foundations as well as individuals and organizations hoping to profit from promoting increased privatization of public education,” the group’s 2003 report concluded.
Morgan has reimbursed herself for nearly $16,000 in campaign expenses since 2006, but rarely reported the end recipient of the spending as required by campaign finance rules. Of that amount, $3,378 was reimbursed to her without reporting the purpose of the spending, which the rules also require.
- Elected to the House in 2002 with 54% of the vote, after winning a three-way Democratic primary with 63%. Secretary of State Cathy Cox had removed Morgan from the ballot over residency issues, but a Fulton County judge reinstated her two weeks before the primary.
- Re-elected in 2004 with 64% of the vote.
- Re-elected in 2006 with no opposition.
- Re-elected in 2008 with 72% of the vote.
- Re-elected in 2010 after winning 73% of the vote in the Democratic primary.
- Re-elected in 2012 with no opposition.
- Lost a 2014 Democratic primary runoff for state school superintendent, 54% to 46%, to former Decatur Board of Education chair Valarie Wilson.
- Appropriations (2013 – 2014)
- Arts & Humanities (2003 – 2004)
- Education (2003 – 2014)
- Governmental Affairs (2007 – 2014)
- Health & Human Services (2009 – 2014)
- Information & Audits (2005 – 2006)
- Juvenile Justice, formerly Children & Youth (2003 – 2014)
- Since 2009, Morgan has been self-employed as motivational speaker and related activity. She reported earning $71,000 in total income in 2013.
- UNDISCLOSED Executive director, 2011-12, Black Alliance for Educational Options’ Bailey-Sullivan Leadership Institute, focusing on recruiting and training black activists for school choice.
Business ownership interests
- UNDISCLOSED A.T. Morgan Enterprises LLC
Other fiduciary positions
- UNDISCLOSED Board member, 2010-11, Black Alliance for Educational Options
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Austell valued for tax purposes at $131,000
- Rental property in Austell valued for tax purposes at $38,000. She paid $104,000 for the house in 2001, but her 2013 disclosure erroneously reported that she paid $1,045,000.
- None disclosed.
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Friends and Family
- Her ex-husband, David Morgan, is a member of the Cobb County Board of Education and a lobbyist representing the American Federation for Children (her top campaign donor). The Morgans were divorced in 2013.
- Rashad Taylor, later a state legislator himself, managed Morgan’s first several campaigns and was still listed in 2014 as chair of her House campaign committee.
Donors have given more than $506,000 to Morgan’s campaign committee since 2002. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2002: $70,854
- 2003-04: $77,695
- 2005-06: $14,607
- 2007-08: $33,138
- 2009-10: $51,934
- 2011-12: $56,323
- 2013-14: $4,750 (House campaign)
- 2013-14: $254,398 (superintendent campaign)
- Reported cash on hand (Oct. 2014): $0
- $59,100 American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, & its leadership
- $29,777 Former House Speaker Terry Coleman & other Democratic legislators
- $12,600 Jeff Yass, co-founder Susquehanna International Group LLP
- $10,000 Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City
- $10,000 Eli Broad, Los Angeles, Cal., philanthropist
- $9,500 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $8,750 Connections Academy & vice president Martha Revenaugh
- $8,300 Georgia’s WIN List (formerly Democratic Women of Georgia)
- $8,750 Service Employees International Union & leadership
- $6,800 Charter Schools USA & president Jonathan Hage
- $6,300 Kasim Reed for Mayor
- $6,300 Avery Munnings, partner Deloitte
- $6,300 Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Palo Alto, Calif.
- $5,750 Planned Parenthood of Georgia & executives
- $5,000 Emily’s List
- $4,800 Howard Fuller & other fellow board members of the Black Alliance for Educational Options
- $4,800 Richard Gerson & John Griffin, investors Blue Ridge Capital
- $4,600 Former Sen. Eric Johnson
- $4,500 Law firm of ex-Gov. Roy Barnes
- $4,300 Kent Thiry, Denver, Co., CEO DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc.
Morgan has reimbursed herself for nearly $16,000 in campaign expenses since 2006, but rarely reported the end recipient of the funds as required by campaign finance rules. Of that amount, $3,378 was reimbursed to her without reporting the purpose of the spending, which the rules also require.
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. Morgan’s committee made these contributions:
- 2002: $1,000
- 2003-04: $950
- 2005-06: $500
- 2007-08: $1,068
- 2009-10: $600
- 2011-12: $2,195
- 2013-14: $2,150
Since 2006, lobbyists have reported paying more than $12,000 for meals and other gifts for Morgan. The big spenders: American Federation for Children ($4,476), Georgia Power Co. ($3,747). BFF lobbyist: Jamie Lord ($3,668).
- 2006: $1,116
- 2007: $481
- 2008: $1,410
- 2009: $1,004
- 2010: $1,691
- 2011: $3,129
- 2012: $2,392
- 2013: $1,465
- 2014: $182 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.
- 2003: $687 (5 days)
- 2004: $1,041 (7 days)
- 2005: $2,296 (12 days)
- 2006: $1,673 (11 days)
- 2007: $4,011 (18 days)
- 2008: $4,358 (17 days)
- 2009: $3,240 (17 days)
- 2010: $2,260 (12 days)
- 2011: $2,197 (12 days)
- 2012: $1,594 (9 days)
- 2013: $2,599 (11 days)
- 2014: $2,427 (12 days)
Posted July 16, 2014; last updated Jan. 26, 2015