State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like.But who decides what constitutes transparency? Who checks whether they’re telling us all that we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.
House Speaker David Ralston and other lawmakers learn today whether lobbyists’ spending on gifts for officials’ spouses and families must be disclosed publicly, when the State Campaign Finance Commission considers an advisory opinion on that point. An attorney close to the speaker requested the opinion Feb. 11, just a few days after a complaint was filed over a $17,280 trip to Europe for Ralston, his chief of staff and their families. A lobbyist promoting high-speed rail paid for the jaunt.
More than 90 state lawmakers — and one newcomer — collected $530,000 in campaign contributions this spring even though they will coast to election in November without a fight,an analysis of campaign records shows. More than half of that cash flowed to just 10 of them.
Sharon Barnes Sutton’s paycheck was garnisheed in 2008 after she missed payments on her Lexus. Gwinnett County issued four arrest warrants for her over $1,000 in bounced checks in 2007. And she lost her $162,000 Stone Mountain home a few months ago when she couldn’t keep up with the mortgage. Still, Sutton reported spending $69,000 of her own money to run for the DeKalb County Commission, campaign records show. All this on a $43,000 schoolteacher’s salary.
One weekend in April, John Oxendine‘s campaign worked local Republicans hard as activists met in each congressional district. The payoff: Oxendine won straw polls at several district conventions as the GOP choice for governor in 2010. In cozying up to party activists, campaign records show, the candidate gave $11,885 to local Republican groups on April 10-19, right around the April 18 conventions. The checks, though, did not originate with his campaign for governor. They came from the $480,000 bankroll he amassed to run for re-election as insurance commissioner. ALSO OF NOTE: A few weeks earlier, Secretary of State Karen Handel paid $10,000 from her re-election campaign fund to a company run by the new spokesman for her gubernatorial campaign.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has raised nearly $605,000 in campaign funds this year, more than any other Georgia congressman, new financial disclosures show. To do that, he has spent heavily on fund-raising, including $72,652 paid to three companies affiliated with Paul Kilgore, his campaign treasurer.
More than $90,000 improperly paid to U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal’s chief of staff has wound up in the hands of a Gainesville charity. Chris Riley, Deal’s top congressional aide, had to return the money to the campaign last year because the payments exceeded outside income limits for highly paid Congressional staffers. Deal’s latest disclosure report, filed April 15, shows the congressman’s campaign wrote a check in February for $91,124 to Good News at Noon.
By JIM WALLS June 25, 2009 — Eugene Walker failed to disclose nearly $20,000 in campaign donations from a developer seeking a multimillion-dollar tax break until after his Dec. 2 election to the DeKalb County school board. The donations – and Walker’s service on both the school board and the DeKalb Development Authority — have […]
The developer asking DeKalb County for a controversial $52 million tax break dumped $45,800 into the 2008 political campaigns of the officials who may make the call. The buzz in DeKalb has centered on nearly $20,000 in donations by The Sembler Co., its executives and family members, to school board member Gene Walker. Walker, who […]
An interesting sidebar to last week’s legal malpractice trial of state Rep. Randal Mangham: The judge who gave Mangham a new trial in 2008 had to drop the case because he’d been lobbying the legislator to fund a program in his court. A DeKalb County State Court jury on May 6 awarded $625,000 in damages […]
House Speaker Glenn Richardson has 54,000 constituents in his legislative district in eastern Paulding County. Just two of them donated money to the speaker’s 2007-08 election fund. Three businesses in the 19th District also gave to the speaker’s campaign, as did the Paulding Chamber of Commerce. Together, the six donations — totaling $5,840 – added […]
Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., facing a possible five-figure fine for breaking election finance laws in 2002, filed campaign finance reports with similar discrepancies in 2008, state records show. McDonald last week admitted dozens of violations in reporting the finances for his 2002 campaign. He blamed the mistakes on his campaign staff […]