July 24, 2012 — For a guy who votes to pass laws, Rep. Rashad Taylor sure has a hard time obeying them. Under Georgia law, Taylor’s disclosure of personal finances was due June 9. Six weeks later, he hadn’t filed it. (UPDATE: He filed it July 25, a day after this article was posted.) He’s filed just two of seven disclosures of campaign finances due since June 2010. Neither reports any contributions, even though registered donors reported giving him $15,000-plus in that time. Nor do Taylor’s disclosures report any expenditures, so the public has no clue what he may have done with the money that he hasn’t reported collecting.
Taylor, a political consultant, has stayed busy running other candidate’s campaigns, but he’s cut a few corners in running his own. Five times since 2008, Taylor failed to disclose his personal or campaign finances, neglecting to report receipt of at least $11,225 in campaign contributions as a consequence. “There’s really no excuse for not having filed my disclosures that are missing,” Taylor said. “I just haven’t gotten it done.” Taylor also fell behind on his state income taxes, incurring liens totaling $3,161 for 2008 and 2009.
A powerful Cobb County legislator collected $40,000 last year to do research to help an advocacy group decide the best way to ask the Legislature for money. Rep. Earl Ehrhart and his client, Friends of Arts & Culture, say he did not help to write a bill that would have allowed local votes on arts funding, nor did he help move it through the Legislature. “I never consult on any type of legislation that’s going on here,” he said. Ehrhart did not disclose his client or his fee, which state law does not require. Nor did he disclose the name of his consulting business, which the law does require. This is what passes for transparency in the Georgia Legislature. UPDATE: An ethics complaint regarding this transaction was filed this week with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.
Hundreds of state officials — legislators, department heads, members of boards and commissions — haven’t submitted financial disclosures that were due last July. Countless politicians also failed to report campaign finances on time — or at all. But the State Ethics Commission, crippled by budget cuts, usually does nothing more than e-mail them a reminder. Says Tom Plank, interim executive secretary of the commission: “We can’t even mail them a letter.” Read my Ethics Watch column online here in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Former House Speaker Terry Coleman and 10 current and former lawmakers closed ethics complaints today with the payment of a fine and a promise not to do it again. Coleman agreed to a $2,900 fine for making more than $38,000 in mortgage payments on a condominium that his business was purchasing. The panel also fined Congressman David Scott for failing to report the status of $83,000 left over in his state Senate campaign accounts since 2002.