Sept. 4, 2012 — Glenn Richardson walked away from the Georgia Legislature with $220,000 in campaign funds to spend with little oversight. More than 2 1/2 years later, as he plans a run for the state Senate, he still hasn’t officially disclosed what he’s done with it. The former speaker of the House assures me, though, that he hasn’t taken a penny for himself. “I have received no checks from that,” said Richardson.
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson must pay a $500 fine, but his political fund may keep $219,915 that was transferred improperly from his campaign account last year, the State Ethics Commission ruled today. The panel also dismissed a separate case, ruling that state law may place no limits on campaign contributions from one candidate to another.
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson has signed a consent order over his apparently unauthorized transfer of nearly $220,000 in campaign funds to a political committee under his control. The State Ethics Commission will decide whether to sign off on the consent agreement Tuesday. It is unclear whether the order would require Richardson or the MMV Alliance Fund to pay a fine.
Political action committees in Georgia operate with little oversight. They don’t have to report spending that’s not campaign-related. Nothing in campaign law addresses how PACs spend their money, the State Ethics Commission observed in 2008. “We did some advisory opinions because we were hoping people would get outraged enough and push for legislation,” said Rick Thompson, the agency’s former executive secretary. It hasn’t worked so far. Georgia lawmakers are sifting through a slew of ethics bills, but none address PAC spending.
Glenn Richardson‘s political action committee registered as tax-exempt Tuesday, but it’s not clear whether that will defuse an investigation into his transfer of $219,915 in leftover campaign cash to the committee. The State Ethics Commission is looking into the payment of that money from Richardson’s campaign account to the MMV Alliance Fund on New Year’s Eve. The question is: Would a tax-exempt filing in February allow MMV to accept a couple hundred thousand dollars in campaign money five weeks earlier?
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s transfer of nearly $220,000 to the MMV Alliance Fund, a political committee under his control, is now the focus of a state investigation. The State Ethics Commission opened the inquiry Jan. 27 because MMV does not appear to be among the groups allowed to accept excess campaign funds.
Georgia law may prohibit ex-House Speaker Glenn Richardson‘s recent transfer of leftover campaign cash to a political fund under his control. On Dec. 31, a day before Richardson’s resignation took effect, he cleaned out his re-election campaign’s bank account with the transfer of $219,915 to the MMV Alliance Fund. One potential problem: MMV does not appear to be among the organizations that may legally accept unused campaign contributions.
Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson‘s political fund, enriched last week with nearly $220,000 from a separate campaign account, can legally spend the money almost any way it wishes. “He could spend it on anything he wants to,” said Rick Thompson, former executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission. “If he wanted to pay his rent or buy an automobile through the MMV PAC fund, there’s no restrictions on what he can do … under the Ethics in Government Act.”