Oct. 2, 2013 — All expense records for state Sen. Don Balfour will be withheld from public view until a related criminal prosecution has concluded, Legislative Counsel Wayne Allen said today.
Sept. 26, 2013 — Real PAC, a political committee with close ties to Gov. Nathan Deal, has filed its first tax forms with the IRS, one of which was more than a year overdue. The filings raise new questions about the timing of large gifts from businesses seeking state contracts or legislation.
Sept. 17, 2013 — Kent Alexander, the lone Democrat on the state ethics commission, has left that position. His resignation letter to Gov. Nathan Deal gave no reason for his departure but notes that he plans to “focus on other professional and civic commitments.” Alexander was not immediately available for comment.
Sept. 11, 2013 — Attorney Michael Rothenberg today admitted defrauding investors who gave him more than $1.3 million. The proceeds, federal prosecutors said, were used for personal expenses and for Rothenberg’s losing 2010 campaign to become a DeKalb Superior Court judge.
July 8, 2013 — Sen. Don Balfour has learned — the hard way — what a difference a year can make. Balfour today reported collecting just $2,000 in political donations for the first six months of 2013, following his demotion to chairing the Senate Reapportionment Committee. For the same period in each of the previous two years, he pulled in $137,000.
June 3, 2013 — A candidate did not present enough evidence of irregularities to overturn a 2012 election that he lost to Baker County Sheriff Dana Meade, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Tim Williamson received about one-third more votes than Meade in the 2012 Democratic primary but lost a runoff by 39 votes. Williamson challenged the results claiming there were irregularities with absentee ballots and votes bought with money or liquor, but the high court said it wouldn’t have changed the outcome even if true.
May 21, 2013 — Fayette County commissioners have until June 25 to propose fixes for election practices that a federal judge ruled today are racially discriminatory.
All bets are off, though, if commissioners decide to appeal the ruling, a choice they will discuss in a closed-door session Thursday.
May 20, 2013 — The Georgia Supreme Court today signed off on a reprimand for state Democratic Party chair Mike Berlon for his inaction in a 2005 child-custody case. A special master found that Berlon failed to file a change of custody petition requested by a client, who only found out when he appeared in court. “This has been going on for a long, long time and it’s nice to get it resolved,” Berlon said.
Tyrone Brooks, a Georgia state legislator for 33 years, has been indicted for allegedly misappropriating nearly $1 million from two organizations that he falsely represented as charities, authorities said today. A federal grand jury charged that he used the money to pay for personal expenses, including home repairs, furniture, lawn service, life insurance, entertainment, utilities, food and clothing, dry cleaning, electronic equipment and jewelry.
May 14, 2013 — A federal judge has held former Rep. Sean Jerguson in contempt of court and entered a $640,000 default judgment against him and his partners in a Cedartown mobile home park. U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob ruled Thursday that Jerguson and Sapphire Pointe LLC were in “flagrant disregard” of the court’s February order compelling them to produce information and documents sought by an Arkansas bank seeking to collect on a loan.
March 28, 2013 — Sen. Jeff Mullis wants to level the playing field regarding campaign fund-raising for legislative races (because incumbents are at such a disadvantage). A worthy goal, but I’d do it a little differently. Five ideas to improve Georgia’s campaign finance laws:
1) Bar incumbent legislators from accepting political contributions if they don’t draw opposition at qualifying time.
March 26, 2013 — To Georgia legislators: As you struggle toward a compromise on ethics “reform,” here are five suggestions that would REALLY help to restore Georgians’ faith in government.
1) Limit lobbyist gifts to $25 per day, with a limit of four per year. That allows them to buy you a meal and a beer, but not the bottles of wine that really drive up the cost up of these $100 meals. And no gifts for spouses. Pay for those yourselves. Suck it up.
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Some criminals have their photos and crimes plastered all over the Internet, so people know who they are and what they did. Not politicians -- until now. The Crooked Politician Registry is an archive of info on public servants who crossed the line.
do it yourself corruption investigation
Most public corruption cases in Georgia are prosecuted in federal court. The U.S. attorney for North Georgia, including metro Atlanta, has an excellent Web site with archived news releases on prominent cases.
Federal court files may be searched online for a nominal fee through PACER. (The first $10 a year of searches are free.)
With the right keywords, online search engines will also turn up news releases or court rulings on a particular case at no cost.