Sen. William Ligon (SD 3): Racial bias complaint settled for $80K
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William T. Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick)
District 3 (Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Charlton & McIntosh counties)
Ligon found himself in the headlines in 2011 when an African-American secretary claimed she was fired because of her race just weeks after being assigned to his office. The Senate paid $80,000 to settle her complaint.
The secretary, Ethel Blackmon, said she had decorated her new desk with family photos and artwork, according to a copy of her EEOC complaint first posted by gapundit.com. Ligon, she wrote, told her in their first meeting to put the items away:
During this initial encounter, he gestured to my artwork depicting African Americans and my family photographs and said, “All of this has to go.” I asked if I could keep the print of the African American child, as it is sentimental to me. He said no, that his interior decorator would not be able to fit that in the décor. As instructed, I removed my personal items – including my family photographs and the artwork.
Neither Ligon nor his officemate, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, raised concerns about her performance, according to Blackmon, but a human resources officer fired her a month later because “it was not working out.”
When she pressed for a specific reason for her dismissal, Blackmon contended, the HR officer told her, “Just face it, you are not the face they want representing them to their constituency.”
She said she later learned she was replaced by a young white woman.
Ligon and Loudermilk both denied discriminating against Blackmon.
In 2016, Ligon injected himself into educators’ rewrite of standards for social studies in Georgia public schools. In a four-page letter to state Superintendent Richard Woods, posted by the AJC’s Maureen Downey, Ligon denounced “political correctness” in the proposed revisions and their increased focus on native American cultures at the expense of “Anglo-American traditions of Western Civilization.” Teachers who’d worked on committees for more than a year preparing the new guidelines, Downey reported, complained their work was subsequently altered and politicized when ideas from Ligon and others were inserted without their knowledge.
Ligon’s top campaign donors are members of Christian Renewal Church, co-founded by his father, in Brunswick. Between them, Richard McMinn, Jimmy Veal, Warren Hereford and others have contributed more than $58,000.
- Launched a committee in 2009 to raise money for a bid for attorney general, but shut it down before qualifying.
- Elected to the Senate in 2010, winning 56% of the vote in the primary and 71% in the general.
- Re-elected three times since then without opposition.
- Faces Democratic candidate Jerrold Dagen in the 2018 general election.
- Served as chair of the Senate Republican Caucus in 2015-16.
- Appropriations (2015 – present)
- Banking (chair, 2017 – )
- Ethics (2011 – present)
- Health & Human Services (2011 – present)
- Judiciary (2011 – present)
- Reapportionment (2017 – )
- Assignments (2015 – 2016)
- Education & Youth (2011 – 2012)
- Judiciary Non-Civil (2013 – 2016)
- MARTA Oversight (2013 – 2014)
- Public Safety (2011 – 2012)
- State & Local Government Operations (chair, 2013 – 2014)
- Attorney specializing in real estate and civil litigation.
- Served as Brunswick’s Municipal Court judge.
Business ownership interests
- The Ligon Firm PC, law firm.
Other fiduciary positions
- President & director, The Ligon Firm PC.
Real estate holdings
- Two office properties in Glynn County valued at $776,000.
- Personal residence on six acres in Camden County valued at $280,000.
- Nine undeveloped lots at the Great Satilla Preserve in Camden County, comprising 97 acres and valued at $146,000.
- Scottrade-Dodge and Cox Mutual Fund.
- Simple IRA — Edward Jones and Charles Schwab.
- The Southern Co.
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Friends and Family
- The senator’s father, William T. Ligon Sr., is senior pastor and a co-founder of Christian Renewal Church in Brunswick.
Ligon has raised more than $452,000 in political donations and borrowed an additional $38,000, which was repaid. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2009 (attorney general): $7,000
- 2009-10 (Senate): $171,484
- 2011-12: $74,398
- 2013-14: $72,066
- 2015-16: $88,048
- 2017-18: $66,387
- Reported cash on hand (June 2018): $67,139
- $32,900 Sen. Tommie Williams & other Republican legislators
- $23,466 Richard McMinn, CPA, & other officials of Christian Renewal Church, co-founded by Ligon’s father, in Brunswick
- $24,499 Jimmy Veal & family, CEO The Beachview Club on Jekyll Island
- $9,750 Georgia Dental Association
- $8,600 Warren & Constance Hereford, retired, Waverly, Ga.
- $7,200 Hi-Tech Jetting Technologies Inc., Homerville, Ga.
- $7,000 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $6,100 Dr. A.W. Strickland, Brunswick, Ga., owner Brantley Telephone Co.
- $5,650 Southeast Georgia Health System officials
- $5,500 Georgia Credit Union League
- $5,500 State Farm Insurance
- $5,250 Georgia Apartment Association
- $5,250 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $5,100 Dr. Ayman Al-Jabi, retired pediatrician, St. Simons Island
- $5,050 Georgia Bankers Association & its donors
- $4,800 Mark & Beth Hall, investor, Brunswick, Ga.
- $4,531 Carter Group Real Estate LLC, Jesup, Ga.
- $4,350 Ameris Bank officers (other than Jimmy Veal)
- $4,000 Georgia Optometric Association
- $4,000 Hodnett Cooper Real Estate and officers
- $4,000 Workplace Injury Network
- $3,500 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
- $3,500 Koch Industries / Georgia-Pacific
- $3,500 Medical Association of Georgia
- $3,500 Select Management Resources, title-pawn lender
Ligon’s campaign has reimbursed himself or his law firm $8,444, mostly for travel expenses, without specifying the end recipient, as required by campaign finance rules. Some of the payments may have been for mileage.
Since 2013, Ligon’s campaign has paid $5,852 in credit card bills without itemizing individual purchases or specifying the end recipients, as required by campaign finance rules. Some of the purchases may have been for less than $101, which do not have to be itemized.
Candidates may give campaign funds to other candidates, a practice that some say provides a legal means to circumvent contribution limits. A 2003 bill to ban such transfers altogether passed in the Senate but died in the House. Ligon’s campaign made these contributions:
- 2010: $657
- 2011-12: $5,400
- 2013-14: $11,700
- 2015-16: $14,630
- 2017-18: $12,450
Since 2010, lobbyists have reported paying more than $6,700 for meals and other gifts for Ligon. The big spenders:
- $3,167 Georgia Bankers Association
- $538 Georgia Power Co.
- $151 Mercer University
Committee days & travel expenses
When not in session, legislators may collect $173 per diem plus mileage for committee meetings or other official business. Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging.
- 2011: $3,203 (13 days)
- 2012: $5,268 (14 days)
- 2013: $4,365 (14 days)
- 2014: $2,849 (7 days)
- 2015: $6,051 (19 days)
Updated Oct. 2, 2018