Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 20, 2010

Buying the Next Georgia Governor: Nathan Deal’s Ethics Take a Turn for the Worse

Nathan Deal, Republican candidate for governor and erstwhile Congressman, has been plagued by so many ethics allegations during this race that we can’t even keep track of them anymore. Most recently, the Democratic Party of Georgia has filed ethics complaints against Nathan Deal over campaign finance law violations.

On October 12th, state newspapers covered a story in which Roy Barnes, Democratic candidate for governor, declared that Nathan Deal must return $136,970 worth of illegal campaign donations. For more on our initial coverage of the claim, look here.

It turns out that Barnes wasn’t just blowing smoke. A mere week after the allegations first arose, the Democratic Party of Georgia has filed an official complaint. The complaint alleges that “Disclosure records filed by Nathan Deal show that in 9 instances of contributions by affiliated corporations and 8 entities that contributed more than the statutory limit.” Sadly, I’m certain that the investigation into this issue will drag on far longer than the election – it would be nice to have a definitive ruling on this prior to the day we go to cast out votes.

Judging by the comments left on Jim Galloway’s blog post about this issue, it seems that Deal’s supporters fall into one of two categories: Either they think that Barnes is lying or they think that Barnes’s campaign financing is equally illegal.

They are wrong on both counts.

Regarding the possibility that the Democrats have made up the allegations: Jim Galloway kindly provided a link to the official letter of complaint sent by the Georgia Democratic Party to the State Ethics Commission. Feel free to peruse the letter here. You may feel intimidated by the fact that the document is a full 118 pages long – I know I was. The length of the complaint is due to the overwhelming amount of documentation provided to back the claim. The letter itself is a mere 7 pages long, and it gives a fairly complete summary of the charges being levied against Nathan Deal. It’s a little boring to read, so I’ll just summarize one of the worst offenders:

Marvin Hewatt must like Nathan Deal a lot, because – through some nifty maneuvering – he donated $50,000 to Nathan Deal’s campaign. That is a whopping $43,900 more than Georgia campaign finance laws allow. Here’s the proof: According to Nathan Deal’s own campaign finance disclosure, 9 companies affiliated with Marvin Hewatt donated a total of $50,000 to the campaign. Each individual donation was within campaign finance limits, which is how he got away with it. Of those 9 companies, 7 of them share a P.O. box; the remaining 2 share an address; Marvin Hewatt is listed as the registered agent or officer for 8 of the 9 companies; heck, his NAME appears in half of them. It seems fairly clear to me that this is an instance of a businessman (a more successful businessman than Nathan Deal, evidently) utilizing his businesses to gain an unfair advantage over the “regular folks” who don’t own multiple businesses to funnel money through. Because I find it difficult to believe that Marvin Hewatt gave Nathan Deal this much money because he truly, honestly believes deep down in his heart that Deal will do wonders for the state of Georgia, one has to wonder: what’s in it for him?

Anyone who believes that these allegations are false should feel free to look at the supporting documents. They offer ample evidence to support the claim that Nathan Deal has accepted thousands of dollars in illegal donations.

Regarding that other belief, the idea that Barnes’s financing is just as shady: The only campaign finance allegations against Barnes that I have seen involve the fact that many of his donations have come from lawyers and law firms. In fact, nearly $800,000 of his $2.8 million came from attorneys or law firms, making up about 28% of the donations. If Roy Barnes hadn’t spent most of his career practicing law in the state of Georgia, I would say that this is pretty sketchy. However, I come from a family filled with lawyers, attended law school myself, and consider myself fairly familiar with the workings of the legal community. Attorneys in the same general geographic location tend to form a fairly small community; even if they don’t particularly like each other, lawyers from various firms interact not only inside the court room, but also in outside meetings and state and national bar committees and social functions. As a result, they tend to support each other. Do I think that these lawyers have an ulterior motive for donating to one of their own? Absolutely not. Do I believe that Roy Barnes will feel obligated to reward them? Nope. I think that this is an instance of a community – in this case the legal community – supporting its own.

To further dissolve this complaint, let me point to an example in which lawyers and the firm they work for donated to Barnes: “Lawyers with McKenna Long & Aldridge gave $13,550 to Barnes, an attorney and former governor. The firm added $3,019.” In other words, collectively, the attorneys at McKenna, Long, & Aldridge gave $16,569 to Barnes’s campaign. BUT! That same law firm hosted a $1,000 per plate fundraising function for Nathan Deal. The fact is, lawyers are known to be politically active – that’s why so many of them run for office; that doesn’t necessarily mean that their money is dirty.

I am concerned that so many of my fellow Georgians seem so willing to dismiss such serious allegations against the man who would be Governor. This man cannot make a sound fiscal decision to save his life. He has used his political office for personal gain. He surrounds himself with Southern good-ole-boys who are equally willing to shove their way up to the taxpayer trough. He has no respect for average Georgians beyond how much power and money he can squeeze from them. Nathan Deal wants what’s best for Nathan Deal – be it illegal campaign money, an illegal landfill to service his business, taxpayers supporting his private road to nowhere, or a no-bid agreement paid for by taxpayers.

No Deal, Georgia.




  1. […] recently posted about the Democratic Party of Georgia’s allegations that Nathan Deal has accepted thousands in illegal c…. In that post, I mentioned a man named Marvin Hewatt, a Deal contributor who managed to donate […]

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