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.
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?
Here’s a plan for making budget cuts that cost taxpayers $618,000 more every year: Replace private security guards making $77,000 a year at the state Capitol with troopers earning about nine times as much. That’s what the state Department of Public Safety did in 2010.
Georgia’s sex offender registries are inaccurate, outdated and incomplete, potentially misleading the public about the threat posed by offenders in their communities, state auditor Russell Hinton says. Data conflicts with information kept by local sheriffs, it’s not updated promptly and it’s often inaccurate, the auditors found.
We can’t say for sure for sure how much these three earned last year. That’s because they have neglected to file the disclosure report required of candidates for secretary of state. The disclosures were due May 7 — a week after they qualified to run for secretary of state.
Earl Mahfuz, the Georgia DOT’s top numbers guy until state investigators found evidence of financial shenanigans, has retired effective today. Mahfuz has been at the center of an accounting controversy in which DOT employed practices described by Gov. Sonny Perdue as “Enron accounting.”
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.
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Nearly 1,000 employees in five local school districts earned $100,000 or more in 2008-09, with the heaviest concentration by far in Atlanta Public Schools, an analysis of salary data shows. Administrative salaries face the knife across metro Atlanta as districts try to tighten budgets without harming classroom instruction. DeKalb last year paid more $100,000+ salaries — 223 — than any other Georgia district, followed by Fulton, Gwinnett, Atlanta and Cobb. For its size, though, Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall‘s district had more large salaries than the others.
Earning nearly a quarter-million dollars, Julie Lewis ranked as Georgia’s best-paid staff attorney for a local school board in 2009, state auditor’s records show. Lewis pulled in $31,000 more than Atlanta Public Schools’ best-paid attorney (whose name was not disclosed) and $87,000 more than Jack Lance with Rockdale County schools.
MARTA’s risky venture into complicated leaseback transactions with insurance giant AIG and others has turned a $15 million profit, at least so far, state auditors said today. Dozens of U.S. transit agencies took part in the leaseback deals, which offered a profit for MARTA and a tax shelter for the investors. The deals seemed safe until AIG lost its AAA credit rating a year ago, leaving MARTA on the line to pay termination fees that could have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars.
When Wayne Clough left Georgia Tech last year, he drove off with $1.8 million in deferred pay, behind the wheel of a 2007 Lexus hybrid SUV given to him by the school’s foundation. Carl Patton and Michael Adams have received similarly sweet deals. All told, 10 University System executives have pocketed or accrued more than $7 million since 2004 in deferred pay. Officials say furloughs will not affect the amounts.