Ed Rynders has chaired two House committees, but what the donors really like is his leadership role on Health and Human Services. He’s been the panel’s vice chair or secretary since 2005.
Donors in the health-care sector have responded, giving his campaign more than $240,000 — more than 40 percent of all his financial support.
Chief among them: Phoebe Putney Health System and Hospital Corporation of America (more than $33,000 combined), which owned the competing hospital that Phoebe Putney bought in 2011; and Georgia chiropractors ($28,000-plus).
May 17, 2016 — Sooner or later, just about every new health-care policy in Georgia must go through Sharon Cooper. That’s why health-care interests have showered Cooper with more than $812,000 in campaign donations over the years.
The money flows from drug companies and pharmacies, doctors and dentists, hospitals and nursing homes, insurers and managed-care organizations. Many of these donors will later appear before Cooper’s committee trying to push a bill, kill one or tweak it to their advantage.
Atlanta Unfiltered reached out to Cooper to ask whether the health-care donations that help keep her in office ever represent a conflict for her. Alas, she indicated campaign demands would keep her tied up until after this year’s Republican primary.
“I’ll talk to you after this is all over,” she said on her way to a meet-and-greet reception. “I’m BUSY.”
Rep. David Wilkerson made a $24,000 enemy when he voted against a 2012 constitutional amendment making it easier for prospective charter schools to open. The American Federation for Children, a Washington-based pro-charter advocacy group, shelled out $4,400 shortly after the vote for a full-page newspaper ad and other communications accusing Wilkerson of flip-flopping on the issue for political reasons. Two years later, the advocacy group spent nearly $20,000 on canvassers, mailings and a direct donation trying to unseat him.
Erica Thomas’ campaign disclosures contain accounting errors that have led to her reporting about $2,300 less cash on hand than she really has. She disclosed a closing cash balance of $2,100 in January 2016, for instance, but did not carry it over to her next report. Thomas said she would review her previous filings and correct any errors.
Check out our other legislative profiles The information on Atlanta Unfiltered is free to all — except me. Use the Donate button on this page to help produce more articles like this one. Albert Thomas Reeves Jr. (R-Marietta) District 34 (Cobb County) Bert Reeves’ largest bloc of campaign donors, by far, are […]
Curt Thompson, during his first several terms in office, was a serial late-filer of campaign and personal financial disclosures. From 2002 to 2010, he amassed $1,725 in penalties for missing 31 filing deadlines. He paid them all.
March 7, 2016 — Bill Cowsert has had trouble paying property taxes on time for his 89 acres of lakefront property in Elbert County. Five times since 2008, he’s been late — once by nearly two years — in taking care of taxes and penalties amounting to more than $18,000.
This morning, the Elbert County tax commissioner’s website showed unpaid bills in Cowsert’s name for $3,388.74. A buyer for the property was to have paid the taxes, Cowsert said, until the sale fell through. The senator said he paid the bills today.
April 1, 2016 — Kinder Morgan Inc. can be forgiven if it didn’t see Rep. Jon Burns standing in the way of its proposed Palmetto Pipeline.
In February 2015, when Kinder Morgan announced the $1 billion project,
Burns was still three months away from becoming House majority leader. His financial disclosures also omitted several large tracts of timberland and described others in vague terms, making it difficult to pinpoint their locations.
As it turned out, Burns owns an interest in five Effingham County parcels comprising 456 acres that lay directly in the path of the proposed 167,000-barrel-a-day pipeline. Other family members own an additional 501 acres on the route.
Kinder-Morgan has suspended work on the pipeline after lawmakers voted to suspend its right to condemn property for the project.
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, complained to the EEOC that Ligon told her to remove photos of her family and African-American artwork from her desk. She said he spoke to her condescendingly after the incident. A month later, when she was fired, a human resources officer told her she was “not the face they want representing them to their constituency.”
Ligon denied discriminating against Blackmon.
Jan. 21, 2016 — Jack Hill’s come a long way. For his first Senate campaign in 1990, he vowed not to take donations over $100. After serving three terms, his 1996 re-election bid raised $3,050 — less than any other senator.
Now, Hill raises more than $100,000 a year in political donations because, as Senate Appropriations chair, he’s one of the guys that everyone sucks up to. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, dentists and other medical providers — all dependent on state Medicaid reimbursements that Hill’s committee oversees — are prominent among the top contributors to his campaign fund.
Jan. 19, 2016 — After serving 24 years in the Georgia Legislature, Bill Jackson should have financial disclosures down pat.
Or so you’d think. Twice since 2007, Jackson has filed his annual disclosure of personal finances two to four months late. One, due five weeks before a special election, wasn’t submitted until three weeks after he’d won and taken office. Jackson didn’t file a personal disclosure at all in 2014 or 2015.
“You got me buffaloed there,” he said recently when reminded of the oversight.
Jan. 13, 2016 — Burt Jones’ 2012 Senate campaign enjoyed two distinct advantages: His good name, as special teams captain of the 2002 SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs, and that of his father, a prominent businessman who’d served eight years in the Georgia House.
The $103,500 borrowed from his father’s business also made a difference. That help, though, may not have been entirely legal.
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