Former Rep. David Lucas has kept much of his campaign spending off the radar over the years, moreso perhaps than any other Georgia legislator. Since 2010 his House campaign committee reported spending more than $78,000 — 46 percent of all disbursements — for unspecified purposes. Lucas has also kept some private business interests off the radar, including his wife’s consulting business and his role as an officer in the non-profit Bowden Men’s Golf Association, which has received payments from his campaign and from a political action committee that employs lobbyists at the Capitol. Lucas still hasn’t filed a disclosure for 2012.
Records show NewTown Macon Inc., a non-profit promoting development in downtown Macon, paid Lucas and his company $24,350 — an amount he has declined to disclose — to campaign for passage of a 1 percent local option sales tax in 2010. NewTown also played a role in a small land transaction that netted Lucas a $3,400 profit in 2008.
Nov. 13, 2013 — Don Balfour was suspended from the Georgia Senate today over expense account discrepancies first reported by Atlanta Unfiltered in February 2012. Our examination of the senator’s 2011 expense account found Balfour had claimed per diem and mileage reimbursements for several days when he was out of state and therefore ineligible for them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution later dug up similar examples from prior years.
The Senate Ethics Committee order Balfour to pay a $5,000 fine over the discrepancies, and a Fulton County grand jury indicted him in September for 18 counts of making false expense claims. Records show Balfour’s campaign committee last year paid nearly $80,000 in legal fees to defend him in those cases.
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.
Two attorneys for the State Ethics Commission improperly used public resources to operate their private law practice, Inspector General Elizabeth Archer has found. Attorneys Yasha Heidari, who resigned in April, and Tom Plank used state-issued computers to research clients’ cases and abused sick leave, she said, and they created a potential conflict by representing a business operated by a man who offers his services as a lobbyist, a profession regulated by the ethics commission. UPDATE: The Ethics Commission said today it will implement the inspector general’s recommended remedies immediately and will “take appropriate action” after reviewing the findings regarding Plank.