Nov. 30, 2016 — Former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis’s conviction for perjury and attempted extortion was overturned today by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Here’s court spokeswoman Jane Hansen’s excellent-as-always summary of the decision (and a link to the court’s full opinion).
Nov. 18, 2016 –Abra kadabra! With a few keystrokes, former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has made tens of thousands of campaign dollars — at least figuratively — disappear.
Rogers, whose campaign finances are under state investigation, reported after leaving the Senate in 2012 that his re-election fund held about $234,000 in unspent donations. But now he says, without explanation, that only $138,000 remained in the account.
The state ethics commission, in a complaint obtained by Atlanta Unfiltered, believes Rogers’ account has improperly reimbursed him for more than $27,000.
Nov. 10, 2016 — House Speaker David Ralston would receive a reprimand but no suspension for violating State Bar rules, according to papers filed today with the Georgia Supreme Court.
Ralston, who practices law in Blue Ridge, admitted improperly advancing $22,000 to a client who’d waited years for his case to come to trial. The speaker paid the money from his firm’s trust account, also a rule violation.
“Whether Ralston’s actions in advancing money to the Chernaks were the result of ignorance as contended, negligence, or an attempt to placate an increasingly frustrated client, the conduct clearly violates the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct,” special master Jon Peters wrote in his 20-page report to the high court.
Nov. 10, 2016 — Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Charlie Bethel, a former floor leader of his in the Senate, to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Bethel was among 79 lawyers nominated for the job. The appointment, coming one day after he was re-elected to a fourth term, will necessitate a special election to fill Bethel’s seat in the Senate.
Bethel’s campaign paid The Sassafras Group, a consulting firm founded by Deal’s daughter-in-law Denise Deal, $3,100 for fund-raising in May 2016.
Nov. 6, 2016 — Dale Rutledge, running an ethics-based campaign against a House incumbent, lodged a complaint against himself in 2012. It cost him $975.
The complaint said he had donated and the campaign had spent about $7,200 before filing the necessary paperwork. Looking further, investigators found he also failed to report three $1,000 contributions in the weeks before the July 2012 primary.
In 2015, Rutledge signed a consent order with the state ethics commission and paid a $975 fine to resolve the case.
Nov. 6, 2016 — Jane Rutledge has self-funded her 2016 campaign, receiving no other political donations. The personal financial disclosure that she filed this year did not include her home as well as 15 acres of farmland. She told us the omission was an oversight and she would correct it.
Nov. 5, 2016 — Unions have donated $4,700 to Tamara Johnson-Shealey’s two races for the state Senate. Sixty percent of her campaign funds, though, have come from donors of $100 or less.
Johnson-Shealey left her home and business off the personal financial disclosure she filed in March 2016. She said the omission was an oversight and amended the disclosure on Nov. 4 after Atlanta Unfiltered called her attention to it.
Nov. 5, 2016 — Fran Millar’s campaign spent more than $2,100 in 2012 on social media, including Tweets and Facebook posts about Republican politics and the failures of Obamacare. Then he got taxpayers to foot the bill.
Millar’s Senate expense account paid him back for the social media expenses, even though bills paid with campaign funds aren’t eligible for reimbursement. Millar later returned the money, after Atlanta Unfiltered inquired about it, but insisted the spending was a legitimate use of his Senate account.
Valerie Clark, then principal of Central Gwinnett High School, retired in January 2009 after 38 years as an educator. A month later, news reports surfaced that an internal investigation had been under way to determine if she had blocked a disciplinary action against her son for allegedly soliciting marijuana on campus. Clark released a statement at the time saying she initially “did not have all the facts” and thought the incident had occurred off-campus. The school subsequently investigated and took all of the students to a disciplinary panel, she said.
Clark’s 2012 election opponent, Timothy Swiney, alleges that she co-sponsored a bill mandating destruction of school employees’ investigative files if they did not end in disciplinary action, “effectively destroy[ing] all evidence of wrongdoing.” The bill in question, however, did not pass and, even if it had, would not have sealed Clark’s investigative file.
Nov. 3, 2016 — Samuel Park has raised a respectable $44,000 for his 2016 House race, thanks in part to his involvement in Democratic activities in recent years. He’s also drawn a good bit support from Gwinnett County’s Korean-American community.
Nov. 1, 2016 — Members of Atlanta’s legal community — led by the firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, where she was an associate from 2002 to 2008 — are Elena Parent’s biggest backers. They’ve kicked in more than $221,000 in campaign donations, nearly 40 percent of her total. Parent has also received more than $26,000 from Home Depot, where her husband was once deputy general counsel, and current and former executives.