Carla Smith, seeking her fourth term on City Council, has raised a relatively modest $158,000 in campaign funds since 2001. Of her $148,000 in itemized donations, real-estate development interests gave at least $56,050, or 38 percent, an analysis of campaign disclosures shows. Engineers and other construction contractors kicked in another $9,900. The Atlanta Braves, who play their home games in District 1, along with Turner Field food vendor Aramark and broadcaster TBS donated $8,900 between them.
Robert Welsh, a budget manager at the State Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, is making his first run for office. He’s raised more than $11,000 in cash and in-kind donations.
Ivory Young was one to two moths late in filing the last two campaign finance reports due before the 2013 city election, and he still hasn’t filed the personal financial disclosures due in September, lapses that he attributes to the illness of a campaign aide. It’s not the first time he’s filed such disclosures late or not at all, though; he’s accumulated 16 unpaid late fees totaling $1,450 since 2003.
In 2007 and 2008, Young collected $46,245, including donations from real estate investors and developers while he chaired the council’s Zoning Committee, for a trust fund that paid for parties and gifts for constituents. Critics said the spending helped curry political favor with constituents and would have been better handled by a charitable group. Young said donors received no favors in return.
Fletcher, founder in 2008 of the Walking Through the Vine ministry, has raised $3,500 in campaign donors. He previously ran for the District 3 Council seat in 2009, finishing with 21% of the vote.
Ballinger’s campaign disclosures remain a puzzlement. She reported loaning her 2012 campaign $70,000 but it only owes her $30,000. She failed to carry over a $12,000-plus cash balance in September 2012. And she’s only reported receiving one of the eight donations that PACs have reported giving her. “Those [other] checks were apparently misplaced,” Ballinger wrote in an email.
Tommy Benton’s campaign reimbursed him $2,909 from 2005 to 2008 for expenses without specifying the end recipient of the money, as required by campaign finance rules. Since 2009, he’s also charged $12,952 of campaign-related expenses to credit cards without specifying the end recipient.
Benton’s top campaign donors — including trade groups for teachers, highway contractors and trucking and billboard companies — reflect his longstanding assignments to the Education and Transportation committees.
Lumsden is one of many freshmen lawmakers who rely heavily on other Republican legislators as campaign donors. He has collected $76,190, or 53 percent of all his contributions, from other House Republicans. Insurance ($13,550) and health-care ($11,850) interests, led by Rome-based State Mutual Insurance Co., comprise Lumsden’s other top donor base.
Until 2013, Lumsden’s financial disclosures failed to mention his partial ownership of his wife’s insurance agency. He amended his dicslosure to include that information in 2013 after an inquiry by Atlanta Unfiltered.
Tru-Vision Security Consultants, Tanner’s private security business, gave up its six-figure contract with Lanier Technical College in January 2013 on the day he took the oath of office to serve as a state legislator.
Tanner said he did his research and found Tru-Vision could have continued doing business with the college if it won a new contract through a competitive sealed-bid process. “However,” he wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to a university official, “I feel it best that I turn this work over to another company to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
When he wasn’t riding his Harley, Maxwell, an Allstate insurance agent, has chaired the Audits, Retirement and Regulated Industries committees in the House. His service since 2005 on the Insurance Committee, though, has attracted the lion’s share of his political donations. Neary half of the $250,000 raised over the years by his campaign committee has come from insurance and health-care interests.
Collectively, Maxwell’s fellow board members at Georgia Heritage Bank top his donor list from other interests. A 2009 federal cease and desist order accused the Dallas, Ga.-based community bank of employing risky lending practices under lax board supervision.
Coomer’s most generous campaign donors include fellow legislators and a number of local businesses in his district. Since he ran for the House, though, proponents of free-standing surgery centers, including the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Cartersville surgeon Dr. John Perry, Resurgens P.C. and the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, have given nearly $11,000, the largest bloc of campaign money that Coomer has collected from a single interest.
The Georgia Industrial Loan Association, represented by former Rep. Charlie Watts, treated Coomer to an $1,148, three-day weekend at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, Fla., for its 2012 annual convention.
Lobbyists have spent about $4,100 on Rick Jasperse in 2016, including $1,700 for an educational farm tour and equestrian visit for him and his wife.
In 2011, Rep. Jay Neal paid $900 in fines and late fees for filing his 2006 personal financial disclosure three years late and leaving a fiduciary position off his 2007 disclosure. As part of the consent order that closed the investigation by the state ethics commission, Neal acknowledged that he also failed to file copies of five campaign disclosures from 2006 with local election officials, as the law then required.
Neal’s single most generous campaign donor over the years has been former Rossville used car dealer Carey V. Brown, whose Internet-based payday-lending businesses have been sanctioned by regulators in California, New Hampshire, Oregon and Pennsylvania for charging excessive — and illegal — interest rates. Neal said he has known Brown, whose last donation came in 2008, from their involvement in a women’s counseling center before Neal entered politics. “Our relationship was not a business relationship in any way,” he said.
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