Oct. 22, 2013 — State Auditor Greg Griffin, rather than the attorney general’s office, will try to sort out charges that a 2012 ethics investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal was compromised. Griffin agreed to investigate allegations that the director of the state ethics commission, after talks with key staffers in Deal’s office, ordered the case closed with a minimal penalty. The commission, which announced Griffin’s role late today, had voted last month to ask Attorney General Sam Olens to name a special assistant to review its handling of the case.
Olens, as it happened, had been mentioned
as one possible factor in Deal’s resolve to settle the case in 2012 rather than let it reach a public hearing. A commission attorney has testified she was told that the governor didn’t want Olens, a potential rival in the 2014 governor’s race, to play any role in the proceedings.
Jan. 10, 2013 — The GBI has completed an investigation of state payments to soon-to-be-deposed Senate Rules chairman Don Balfour, but there’s no word yet as to its findings. Attorney General Sam Olens won’t say what the next step might be, if any. Balfour, meanwhile, appears to have retained Andersen, Tate & Carr, a Gwinnett County law firm that is defending ex-Gwinnett Commissioner Kevin Kenerly against bribery charges.
Aug. 20, 2012 — Josh McKoon has called on his Senate colleagues to censure Don Balfour and remove him as chairman of that chamber’s Rules Committee for filing false expense reports.
Exactly three years ago today, I requested records of credit card statements for former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill. A week or two later, after someone let it slip that the sheriff’s office had a bank account that other county officials didn’t know about, I asked for those records too.
I’m still waiting. Legally, though, there’s no valid reason that I should be.
The State Campaign Finance Commission has changed its mind and wants to hire a staff attorney after all, four months after firing its last one. The difference is, this one won’t make more than $55,000 a year and won’t be named Sherilyn Streicker, whose job was eliminated by the commission in June.
Attorney General Sam Olens – who’s taking on a larger role in investigations of public officials, political action committees and lobbyists — has raised more than a third of his campaign money from public officials, PACs, lobbyists and their clients. Donors include parties in high-profile inquiries into possible misuse of campaign funds or receipt of improper contributions.“There is always a potential for a conflict,” acknowledged Josh Belinfante, vice chairman of the campaign finance commission, “but I don’t think … that means a conflict exists.”
The head of the Georgia Lottery made about a half-million dollars last year, but you wouldn’t know it if you checked salary data on the state auditor’s website. Open.Georgia.gov shows Margaret DeFrancisco was paid $353,500 in salary in FY2010. What it doesn’t tell you is that the lottery paid her a bonus of $143,276 last year. What’s up with that?
The candidate who promises as attorney general to “aggressively raise the bar on ethics reform” is systematically skimping on reports of his own campaign expenditures. Sam Olens, former chairman of the Cobb County Commission, received more than $55,000 in unitemized reimbursements from campaign funds since January 2009, his disclosures show. But Olens’ reports do not reveal the end recipients of the spending, as required by the State Ethics Commission.