Rep. Tom Dickson (HD 6): $64K in alcohol, tobacco money
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Thomas S. Dickson (R-Cohutta)
District 6 (Whitfield & Murray counties)
Alcohol and tobacco interests have showered campaign donations on Tom Dickson by virtue of his 10 years on the House Regulated Industries Committee. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers in those industries have given more than $67,000 to Dickson’s campaigns, or about one-fifth of all his donations. Georgia beer wholesalers have also hosted Dickson five times as a speaker at their annual convention, at a cost of more than $4,600.
He’s also benefited from fellow Republican legislators, who’ve donated more than $50,000 to his campaign in 2016.
Dickson, after retiring in 2003 as Whitfield County school superintendent, has stayed busy as a part-time legislator and as chairman of Georgia United Credit Union, which has become one of Georgia’s largest, quadrupling in size in the last decade.
Georgia United converted from a federal- to a state-chartered institution in 2010. Soon thereafter, it merged with six other credit unions, including the State Employees Credit Union, making potential members of all state and county government employees and those of Georgia’s public universities. The credit union reports having more than 120,000 members.
- Elected to the House in 2004 after winning 55% in the Republican primary; re-elected three times without opposition.
- Re-elected in 2010 after a narrow 51-49% primary win.
- Re-elected in 2014 after winning the primary, 59-41%.
- Polled 49.7% in the May 2016 Republican primary, missing outright victory by 16 votes, but lost a runoff 54-46% to challenger Jason Ridley.
- Appropriations (2009 – present; chair, Education Subcommittee, 2011 – present)
- Economic Development & Tourism (2005 – present)
- Education (2005 – present)
- Reapportionment (2015 – present)
- Regulated Industries (2005 – present)
- Rules (2015 – present)
- Human Relations & Aging (2007 – 2012)
- Reapportionment (2011 – 2012)
- Former educator, retiring in 2003 as Whitfield County school superintendent.
Business ownership interests
- None disclosed.
- Board chairman since 2008, Georgia United Credit Union.
- Former CFO, The Georgia Project Inc., a non-profit that brought teachers from Mexico to Dalton, Ga., to help with instructing the children of Hispanic mill workers.
Real estate holdings
- Personal residence in Whitfield County & adjoining lot (total of 8.6 acres) valued at $177,000.
- Dominion Resources.
Payments from state agencies
- None disclosed.
Friends and Family
- Dickson worked with former Congressman Erwin Mitchell, founder of The Georgia Project, to improve education for the children of Hispanic workers at the mills in and around Dalton, Ga.
- Warren Butler, recently retired CEO of Georgia United Credit Union, served on the board of directors of the Georgia Credit Union League, a trade association with three lobbyists at the Capitol. The credit unions oppose efforts to require judicial review of foreclosures. Georgia is one of 30 states that allow lenders to foreclose without a judge’s approval.
Dickson has raised more than $329,000 in political donations since 2004. He also loaned his first campaign $1,500, which was repaid shortly after the primary. The breakdown by election cycle:
- 2004: $10,717
- 2005-06: $7,125
- 2007-08: $13,550
- 2009-10: $50,815
- 2011-12: $25,550
- 2013-14: $82,850
- 2015-16: $138,821
- Reported cash on hand (July 2016): $45,701
- $89,250 Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones & other Republican legislators
- $15,850 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association
- $10,600 Georgia Association of Educators
- $8,100 Georgia Dental Association
- $7,500 Anheuser-Busch Companies
- $7,150 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia
- $7,000 Georgia Credit Union League
- $6,500 Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA
- $6,000 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
- $5,300 Georgia Association of Realtors
- $5,000 Home Builders Association of Georgia
- $4,800 Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association
- $4,500 Publix Super Markets
- $4,500 Eagle Rock Distributing Co.
- $4,050 Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia
- $3,800 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- $3,750 Georgia Industrial Loan Association
- $3,500 AT&T
- $3,500 Students First
- $3,350 MillerCoors
- $3,250 Georgia Automobile Dealers Association
- $3,250 Diageo North America
- Dickson’s campaign has paid Southern Magnolia Capital LLC and The Sassafras Group, both founded by Gov. Nathan Deal’s daughter-in-law, Denise, $11,389 for campaign fund-raising and management.
- Dickson reimbursed himself with $3,516 in campaign funds in 2008, 2009 and 2013 without specifying the end recipients of the money, as required by state campaign finance rules. In 2012, for a different reimbursement, he identified the end recipients.
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 passed in the Senate but died in the House. Dickson’s committee has donated more than $53,000 to other campaigns:
- 2005-06: $750
- 2007-08: $7,500
- 2009-10: $4,225
- 2011-12: $19,750
- 2013-14: $19,750
- 2015-16: $1,300
Since 2006, lobbyists have reported paying more than $16,000 for meals and other gifts for Dickson. The big spenders:
- $4,689 Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association
- $1,168 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia
- $1,030 Georgia Association of Manufacturers
- $794 The College Board
- $792 Georgia Association of Convenience Stores
- $568 Georgia Power Co.
- $559 AT&T
- $518 Educational Services of America Inc.
- $518 The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation
- $462 Eagle Rock Distributing Co.
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. 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:
- 2007: $9,510 (29 days)
- 2008: $8,135 (25 days)
- 2009: $3,536 (15 days)
- 2010: $7,482 (33 days)
- 2011: $8,978 (37 days)
- 2012: $9,596 (38 days) #18 in the House
- 2013: $10,188 (42 days) #15 in the House
- 2014: $5,328 (21 days)
- 2015: $10,634 (44 days) #16 in the House
Updated July 27, 2016