Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 21, 2010

RGA/Nathan Deal Levy New Attacks Against Roy Barnes

The RGA and Nathan Deal have released 3 new ads against Democratic candidate Roy Barnes.

The first ad levies the same accusations that we’ve already heard:

  • He defended a child molester — except that the truth is that he represented the individual at a single bond hearing, NOT AT TRIAL, and was hired by the man’s employer. Not to mention, Nathan Deal was a defense attorney — you really want to go there, buddy? Because I’m willing to bet that as a defense attorney, you’ve defended criminals. Should we go back and look at those records?
  • He killed jobs — except that he created 234,000 jobs during his term and Georgia had its lowest unemployment rates in 34 years under Barnes.
  • Barnes sued people in front of judges he appointed — except that Barnes returned to his legal career after spending months working for Legal Aid, and has only tried ONE case in front of a judge he appointed. For more on our opinion of this totally ridiculous allegation, go here.

And that’s just the start. Check back later for a more thorough breakdown of the other ads — because in watching them I was literally yelling at the computer screen for the lies that were coming from my speakers.

You know, Roy Barnes’s ads have picked up a lot — they’ve become more dramatic to say the least. And yes, some of his ads, such as the one about the rape shield law, were somewhat heavy handed and a little unfair. But when this is what you’re fighting, what’s the other choice? You have to fight fire with fire, and that’s exactly what Barnes is doing.

If Nathan Deal didn’t want to be attacked in ads, then he shouldn’t have started the fight. He began the dirty fighting before he’d even clinched the nomination — now is a bad time to cry foul.

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 21, 2010

Nathan Deal’s Salvaged Contract

Unless you live under a rock (or in a different state), you’ve probably heard about Nathan Deal’s no-bid contract with the state of Georgia. This was the subject of the Office of Congressional Ethics investigation on Nathan Deal, which was never actually completed because Nathan Deal left office during the investigation. According to a recent piece in Atlanta Unfiltered, it turns out that there wasn’t really a no-bid contract…per se. The real story is actually much more confusing, and in some ways more disturbing, than the story of the no-bid agreement.

 

One point of interest, as Charlie over at Peach Pundit pointed out, is the fact that the details in this article differ from the statements of Nathan Deal and his campaign: “Specifically, Deal and his folks get indignant when you use the word contract, yet there was a 2004 bid that resulted in a contract for GSD that was then cancelled on a technicality. So, there was a ‘contract’.” Nathan Deal has also claimed that he wasn’t really profiting from the agreement – but new information suggests that Deal and his business partner netted about $415,000 in just two years from their business with the state. That sounds like profit to me.

 

But what really caught my attention was the way that things unfolded between Georgia and Gainesville Salvage Disposal (GSD). Read the full article for the details, but here’s a brief summary:

 

In 2004, GSD won a contract with the state through a somewhat complex and, quite frankly weird, bidding process. Under the terms of the contract, GSD would provide facilities and equipment to inspectors so that they could examine salvaged vehicles before they were put up for auction. GSD would charge $60 per vehicle, and would give 10% to the state as a commission. However, the contract was almost immediately cancelled and never rebid. Despite the cancellation, GSD continued to be the only functioning inspection site in its region. By July 2006, GSD was charging $100 per vehicle – way more than any other inspection site in the state – but was still only paying 10% to the state. In other words, instead of earning $54 per car, as under the original contract, the company was earning $90 per car. This $46 difference, when multiplied by the 6,384 cars inspected at the site in 2007 and 2008, netted Deal and his business partner nearly $300,000 more than they would have under the original contract.

 

In some ways, the truth is even worse than the idea that Deal benefited from a no-bid contract. Had he benefited from a no-bid agreement, then yes, that would be somewhat reprehensible because it goes against everything that he is supposed to be standing for (capitalism, the free market, etc.). Instead, we have a situation in which he reached an agreement with the state, the agreement was cancelled due to a technicality, and he used that situation as an excuse to go back on his word and turn a huge profit. It’s so slimy that I may need to go wash my hands after posting this.

 

This won’t be a game changer. The people who are determined to vote for Deal will probably do so even if it should come out that Deal keeps small children locked up in his basement for cheap labor. And that depresses me.

 

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 21, 2010

Deal is shady…but so are his contributors

I recently posted about the Democratic Party of Georgia’s allegations that Nathan Deal has accepted thousands in illegal campaign donations. In that post, I mentioned a man named Marvin Hewatt, a Deal contributor who managed to donate $50,000 via 9 affiliated companies — more than 8 times the legal limit for campaign donations.

As I was writing that post, I had the niggling feeling that I had read Mr. Hewatt’s name elsewhere, in a way unconnected with the governor’s election.

And after doing some research, it turns out that I was right.

Remember those shady land deals out in Gwinnett County? The AJC ran a huge piece on them back in 2009, leading to a grand jury investigation which has thus far resulted in birbery charges against one county commissioner and the resignation of the chairman of the board of commissioners. We had our own take on some of those deals. An excerpt from the original post:

Earlier this year, the Board voted to purchase 33.2 acres of land south of Dacula. In that deal, the land owner applied to the Board to change the zoning of the land so that he could build a 91-home subdivision on it. The Board denied his request and allowed him to build only 33 homes. In response, the developer sued the county. The county initiated proceedings to purchase the land (which the county needs about as much as it needs a hole in the head – the land is intended to expand an adjacent 294-acre plot of undeveloped park land that has been sitting around for about eight years now). The county appraiser valued the land at just over a million dollars. Bannister decided that that figure was far too low and introduced a copy of the developer’s appraisal, which was based on 2006 land sales and valued the land at $2.29 million. Bannister claims that he believes the second appraisal to be the more accurate of the two. Thus the county, at the good Chairman’s behest, paid twice what the county appraisal said they should pay for a completely useless tract of unneeded, undeveloped land – all because the County Chairman was more concerned about the developer turning a profit on the sale than on saving the taxpayer’s dollars.

Guess who was involved in Gwinnett’s shady land deals? Those unneeded and overpriced 33.2 acres were purchased from none other than Marvin Hewatt.  From the AJC back in 2009 (emphasis added):

The four land purchases unfolded in a similar manner.

Developers first tried to get their land rezoned in order to build mixed-use developments, apartment complexes or subdivisions.

The county commissioners —and in one case the Sugar Hill City Council— either rejected the rezoning requests or gave developers less valuable zonings than they asked for. The developers responded by filing lawsuits — three against the county and the fourth against the Sugar Hill.

Soon after, the county bought the land from prominent developers David Jenkins, David Bowen, Wayne Mason and Marvin Hewatt. Three of the purchases settled lawsuits.

Buying land to settle lawsuits with developers is not common practice in other metro Atlanta counties, including Cobb, DeKalb and Cherokee.

“Our attitude is not to turn around and buy their property, because we refuse to let them do whatever they want to do,” Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said he believes the pattern of lawsuits raises questions about some of his colleagues’ involvement with developers.

Charles Bannister, former chairman of the board of country commissioners, was nearly indicted for perjury. What did he allegedly lie about? Meeting with Marvin Hewatt:

The proposed indictment released Monday said Bannister made a false statement to the grand jury when he denied meeting with Marvin Hewatt, a developer, on Feb. 24, 2009. He also denied receiving an appraisal from Hewatt or James Clower, an appraiser, regarding a tract of land that was the subject of a lawsuit between Hewatt and the Board of Commissioners, the document said.

The AJC reported a year ago on the county’s decision to buy 33.2 acres south of Dacula from Hewatt. An appraiser hired by the county valued the land at a little more than $1 million, but Bannister helped persuade his colleagues to pay $2.29 million for the land. He took a copy of an older appraisal that the developer bankrolled to a closed-door commission meeting for other commissioners to consider. That appraisal, based on 2006 land sales, was for $2.42 million.

Bannister didn’t deny his role in upping the final price the county paid to Hewatt. In an interview with the AJC, he said believed the developer’s appraisal was the more accurate one.

In other words, Marvin Hewatt was involved in a law suit with the county involving a large tract of land; he and his little buddy Bannister got together and figured out a way for the country to pay Hewatt roughly twice what the land was actually worth. Bannister tried to pussyfoot around the issue, initially claiming that he did not meet with Hewatt nor accept an inflated land appraisal from Hewatt.

Marvin Hewatt has already been involved in one instance of shady governing. While I cannot be sure that Hewatt actively sought out special treatment from Bannister, all evidence seems to point in that direction. Now he has donated a huge sum of money to a gubernatorial candidate — a candidate who has already shown absolutely no compunctions about using his public office to benefit himself and his cronies.

Just what special treatment did Marvin Hewatt purchase for $50,000? How many taxpayer dollars would go to line this big spender’s pocket after election day?

Can’t trust the money and can’t trust Deal.

No Deal, Georgia.

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.

 

Posted by: Perimeter Progressive | October 18, 2010

The Real Deal

Just when I thought that Nathan Deal could sink no lower…

Roll Call has released a report detailing yet another potential ethics scandal involving Nathan Deal, Chattahoochee Logistics, and Chris Riley. It seems that Deal’s office paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to Chattahoochee Logistics from 2002 to 2008. Chattahoochee Logistics, LLC is currently “owned” by Bambi Riley, wife of Chris Riley, Nathan Deal’s former chief of staff and current campaign manager. House ethics rules forbid Congressmen from purchasing goods and services from their staffers, but the rule is silent regarding services purchased from staffers’ spouses.

This seems to me to be splitting hairs to a terrible degree. When people are married, they file joint taxes and their income is considered in a lump sum. Income earned by one spouse is earned by both spouses. By paying large sums of money to a company “owned” by Bambi Riley, Deal was lining Chris Riley’s pockets. The company was founded by Chris Riley, is listed in his wife’s name, and is listed at Riley’s home address. On what planet does this disassociate Chris Riley from Chattahoochee Logistics???

Note, for the record, that this is not the first time that you have seen the name Chris Riley raised in conjunction with Nathan Deal and his ongoing ethics issues. Chris Riley’s name just keeps popping up. Riley seems to be the evil mastermind behind Nathan Deal’s many, many questionable ethics decisions. One has to wonder, how much more special treatment will Chris Riley seek (and receive) should Nathan Deal become governor? How many more tax payer dollars will be handed to people like Chris Riley — people who grab on to the most corrupt coat tails they can find?

I don’t want Nathan Deal running my state, and I don’t want Chris Riley anywhere near a house of power.

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: Perimeter Progressive | October 18, 2010

What Is Deal Hiding?

I cringe even as I type the phrase “What Is Deal Hiding?” Even I, anti-Deal as I am, am sick and tired of seeing the internet banner ads asking this important question.

Then again, if Deal didn’t insist on hiding so much, the question wouldn’t have to be asked.

You can look through our past posts to see how much Deal has hidden throughout this campaign.

  1. Deal dilly dallied for weeks before finally agreeing to release his tax documents. Barnes released his right away.
  2. When Deal finally released his tax documents, he refused to release any of the accompanying schedules. (Barnes released all of his.) This is why no one has yet answered a rather important question: How did Nathan Deal manage to pay a mere 1-3% in taxes during some of his highest earning years?
  3. Deal has amended his financial disclosure more often than he has changed his underpants during this campaign.
  4. Deal doesn’t like answering questions.

When questions regarding potential ethics violations arose, Mr. Deal walked away from reporters, refusing to utter a single word.

Nearly every article I read about allegations made against Mr. Deal contains the quote, “Mr. Deal was not available for questions” (or something similar). An example is found here, in an article discussing Roy Barnes’s allegations regarding Nathan Deal’s voting record on rape and family violence: “The Deal campaign declined to make the former congressman available to talk about the legislation.”

It’s almost as if…Nathan Deal is afraid to defend himself. Could it be? Could it be that even Nathan Deal cannot defend his actions?

Nathan Deal’s flat out refusal to bother answering questions from the press begs the question, “What is Deal hiding?”

Until we get a straight answer…

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: Perimeter Progressive | October 18, 2010

Nathan Deal’s War on Women

Last week, the Barnes campaign ran a highly emotional ad alleging that then-state-senator Nathan Deal sponsored a bill in 1991 that would have severely diluted Georgia’s rape shield laws. Though the ad was, in my humble opinion, somewhat heavy handed, the point was well taken. As a woman, I have a slight problem with anyone wishing to defend rapists.

Then, when the Barnes campaign followed this ad up with a press release alleging that Nathan Deal also opposed a family violence bill while in the state senate, I became even more enraged.

Up until now, my primary concerns regarding Nathan Deal have dealt with his fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof) and his ethics (or lack thereof). But now, Mr. Deal, it’s personal.

I must first give a nod to the political savvy of the Barnes campaign. Nathan Deal has repeatedly accused Roy Barnes of running a negative campaign based on lies and misinformation. Barnes has repeatedly replied that he cannot help if his campaign is negative given that he is merely voicing the truth about Mr. Deal’s past. Barnes has gone a step further with both of these allegations by preemptively providing proof of his claims. I think this is a brilliant political maneuver designed to make it all the more difficult for Nathan Deal to mount a defense by claiming that he is being unfairly maligned with twisted lies. This also shows that Roy Barnes can respect the idea of transparency, not only regarding his personal finances and legal career, but also regarding the information that he bases his decisions on. Bravo, Roy.

Now, about these women’s issues.

First, the rape shield law. It is a fact – meaning that it cannot be disputed – that Nathan Deal sponsored a state bill to alter the rules regarding evidence in rape cases. It is also a fact that opponents to this bill – including attorneys, i.e. legal professionals – argued that the bill would severely dilute Georgia’s already weak rape shield law by allowing the defense to raise questions regarding the victim’s social and sexual past.

Based on these two facts, I have a bit of a problem. I believe that No means No. It doesn’t matter what a woman (or, to be fair, a man) is wearing, how much she’s had to drink, or how many men she has had consensual sex with in the past. No. Means. No. Any law which threatens this basic principle, any law which places a rape victim in the position of defending her own choices, is ludicrous. Are there women who falsely claim rape? Yes. But the fact remains that for every one woman who falsely claims rape, there are probably 10 rapes that go unreported because the victim is afraid to say anything. And why are victims afraid to speak out? Because they are afraid that men like Nathan Deal will attempt to place the blame at their feet. Because they are afraid that men like Nathan Deal will argue that they asked for it.

In 1991, there were 42 rapes per every 100,000 people in this state. According to many estimates, the vast majority of rapes go unreported. Statistically, only about 1 in 16 rapists will spend time in jail – despite rape shield laws, despite our best efforts, women are terrified to report sexual assault. And that’s when they are protected from unfair allegations.

I am lucky: I myself have never been in a position in which I would have to decide whether to report a rape. And yet I personally know at least 2 women who have been raped and did not report it to the police. The pain that they went through was something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (well, given his stance on the issue, I might wish it on Nathan Deal just a tiny bit).

As if the dilution of the rape shield law wasn’t disgusting enough, Nathan Deal also fought tooth and nail against a family violence bill that would have offered greater protection to victims of domestic violence. Sadly, the law often errs on the side of caution in protecting the individual liberties of would-be abusers. The hurdles in place essentially create a situation in which someone has to be obviously injured before law enforcement can step in. The bill proposed by Roy Barnes while he was in the State Senate removed some of these hurdles by allowing the police to arrest an abuser without a warrant if they have probable cause that an act of domestic violence has occurred. Nathan Deal was one of only 7 senators to vote against the bill. His reasons:

  1. “I don’t think that Superior Court judges should become referees within the home.” Quote from the Daily Times (Gainesville), Feb. 12, 1981, “Sen. Deal speaks against violence bill”
  2. “The sanctity of the family must be protected.” Quote from the Daily Times (Gainesville), April 18, 1981, “Moral affairs anniversary”

So, Mr. Deal believes that judges have no place resolving domestic disputes – even when there is sufficient probable cause to believe that the dispute has turned violent. Moreover, he believes that judges should stay out of domestic disputes in order to protect the sanctity of the family – what happens at home stays at home.

It is this backwards, Neanderthal mentality that perpetuates domestic violence in this country. The idea that the family is sacred and that what goes on between family members ought to remain private is one of the reasons why scared wives and children hesitate to speak out.

I never noticed before now how much “Nathan Deal” sounds like “Neanderthal.”

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 12, 2010

Nathan Deal’s Road to Nowhere (Updated)

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario:

A Congressman files an application to rezone 137 acres of property in order to use it as a solid waste landfill so that he can use the property as a junkyard adjacent to his auto salvage yard. Not long after, the same Congressman files an application to have a small private road that services the aforementioned property, his business, and two other businesses turned into a public road so that taxpayer money can be used to maintain the road. Then, when the applications weren’t approved fast enough, the Congressman sets his chief of staff to the task of pushing the applications through. The chief of staff utilizes his House email account to contact county officials during business hours in order to inquire about the issue. A series of emails is sent arranging face to face meetings between the Congressman and the county officials. The meetings take place at the Congressional offices during the workweek.

This would be a case of gross misconduct by a public official. House ethics rules mandate that no Representative can use his office for personal gain.

And this is exactly what Nathan Deal did.

In a report that aired on Fox 5 Atlanta today, Nathan Deal’s attorney defended these actions by claiming that Deal’s chief of staff didn’t specifically ask for anything. He further defended the actions by claiming that they were undertaken on behalf of a constituent. Who was this unnamed constituent? Well, given that the only people who would benefit from turning the private road into a tax funded public road would be Nathan Deal, his business partner, and the owners of the other two businesses on that road, it seems to be a pretty narrow pool of people. One can only assume that the constituent in question was most likely Nathan Deal himself.

More importantly, Deal’s attorney really ought to get his arguments straight. Either Deal never asked for anything or Deal asked for something on behalf of a constituent. You can’t have it both ways.

When you add this most recent ethically questionable finding to those already examined in the House Congressional Ethics Committee investigation of Nathan Deal’s no-bid contract with the state of Georgia, you begin to see a pretty ugly picture.

Nathan Deal used his position to protect a lucrative no-bid contract paid for by Georgia taxpayers. The ethics investigation concluded that there is “substantial reason” to believe Deal may have violated house ethics rules when he and his chief of staff used House email accounts to arrange meetings between Deal and Georgia officials regarding the state’s salvage inspection program. Deal used his position AGAIN in order to arrange a scenario in which Georgia taxpayers would be forced to pay to maintain a road leading to that same salvage yard. He also used his position to push through an application to rezone 137 acres of property in order to turn it into a landfill. The former Mayor of Gainesville said that, as a citizen, she had issues with rezoning the land. Perfectly understandable, given that landfills aren’t generally considered desirable in your area — particularly when they aren’t necessary for the public good but only for the private gain of a prominent citizen.

Nathan Deal seems awfully free with taxpayer money. He doesn’t seem to mind pocketing taxpayer dollars while he benefits from a no-bid contract. He doesn’t seem to mind asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for maintenance for a road leading to his business. If he is elected Governor, will he continue to use his position to add to his personal coffers?

No Deal, Georgia.

 

UPDATE:

The AJC’s Jim Galloway posted this AP excerpt earlier today:

While in Congress, Republican Nathan Deal lobbied Georgia’s attorney general and top environmental officials to approve a landfill that he and his business partner wanted next to their Gainesville auto salvage yard. That’s according to e-mails and memos obtained by The Associated Press.

Deal, now the GOP nominee for governor, was part owner of some property contained in the landfill proposal and signed applications for it. Deal denies any financial interest in the project.

The documents, obtained through open records requests, show Deal tried in 2005 to persuade Attorney General Thurbert Baker to interpret state law so the landfill could move forward. They also indicate Deal’s top congressional aide was keeping close tabs, communicating with state officials through his U.S. House e-mail account.

In other words, in order to protect Deal’s Gainesville salvage business, Mr. Deal is evidently guilty of:

  1. Lying about income from Recovery Services, Inc. (the auto salvage business) in his House of Representatives financial disclosure
  2. Taking more money in salary from his salvage business than House ethics rules allow
  3. Using his position in the House of Representatives — including his House email account, offices, and working hours — to pressure STATE officials to continue a non-competitive state program that provides roughly $300,000 worth of business per year to Deal’s salvage yard (all of which comes from our taxpayer dollars)
  4. Using his position in the House of Representatives to pressure COUNTY officials to convert a private road servicing only his business and two others into a public road, which would mean that the taxpayers — and not Mr. Deal — would have to pay to maintain the road.
  5. Using his position in the House of Representatives to pressure the GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL to reinterpret state law in such a way as to allow Mr. Deal to convert property in Hall County into a solid waste landfill.
  6. Using his position in the House of Representatives to lobby environmental officials to support his efforts to create a giant landfill in his salvage yard’s backyard.

And yet, through all of this, Mr. Deal expects Georgia voters to believe that he had absolutely no financial gain from any of these actions.

He claims that he did not wish to protect his business’s $300,000 per year state income when he tried to keep the state from turning that business over to the private sector.

He claims that he was not defending his own private financial interests when he lobbied to have Georgia taxpayers foot the maintenance bill for his private road to nowhere.

He claims that he was not hoping to benefit financially by creating a giant and unwanted landfill adjacent to his salvage yard (a landfill which would have provided a very convenient junkyard in which his business could store junked cars…).

How stupid does he think we are???

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 12, 2010

Nathan Deal: More Ethics Troubles

Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. What have you done this time?

A recent article in the Savannah Morning News carries this headline: “Barnes says Deal must return $136,970 in ‘illegal’ campaign donations.” The article goes on to detail how the Barnes campaign analyzed Deal’s campaign finance disclosures to determine that Nathan Deal has accepted numerous campaign donations that exceed the legal limit.

A brief refresher course on Georgia’s campaign finance laws: In a state-wide race (like the Governor’s race), donations cannot exceed $6,100. When the Cobb County Liberal waded through Nathan Deal’s disclosure he found at least one donation for $6,500 – a pretty clear violation of the state’s campaign finance laws. He did this by merely exporting Deal’s disclosure to an excel file and searching for the largest donation. It was child’s play to find this illegal donation, and one must wonder why no one in the Deal campaign noticed this – why did it take a random citizen less than 5 minutes to discover an illegal donation when the campaign itself didn’t even see it?

I think we have our answer: This was one of MANY illegal donations. The Barnes campaign, obviously somewhat more qualified to analyze campaign finance disclosures, went further. They waded through the campaign disclosure and searched for donors with common names and/or addresses. By matching up addresses, the Barnes campaign noticed that Nathan Deal had received numerous large donations from companies that share addresses and/or are owned by the same individual. Clearly, companies with the same address or companies with the same owner are affiliated. As such, the affiliated companies as a whole are limited to a donation of $6,100. Instead, such companies donated several thousand apiece, meaning that a single group of affiliated companies donated far more money than is limited by law.

In addition, as with the illegal donation that the Cobb County Liberal spotted, the Barnes campaign also discovered several individuals who had donated more than the legal limit.

Worst of all, the Barnes campaign also spotted several PAC donations that exceeded the legal limit.

In translation, if the Barnes campaign’s analysis of Deal’s donations proves correct (and I somehow doubt the campaign would go public with this if they thought they might be proven wrong – that’s political egg on their faces that they really cannot afford), then Nathan Deal accepted numerous donations from COMPANIES and SPECIAL INTERESTS that exceeded our campaign finance limits.

In further analysis of Deal’s donations, the Cobb County Liberal also spotted this disturbing statistic: Nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of his donations are from out of state, including such puzzling supporters as the New Jersey Film PAC (which, oddly, lists its address in California). Last I checked, Deal was running to represent the interests of Georgians, not New Jersey film makers…

The Deal campaign has responded to Barnes’s claims with a “politics as usual” attitude, claiming that this is just yet another smear attack from the left. But, one has to at least wonder…why is it that there are so MANY ethics and finance questions revolving around Deal, particularly in a race in which the Republican Governors Association has outspent the Democratic Governors Association three times over? One would think that if these were merely smear attacks, there would be an equal or greater number of retributive attacks on Barnes – but the best they’ve come up with is the fact that Barnes is a lawyer whose firm has tried cases in front of judges that Barnes appointed roughly a decade ago. Even digging as far as they can, Deal’s supporters have not been able to find nearly as much dirt on Barnes as the left has been able to find on Deal.

Do I think that Roy Barnes will make an amazing Governor? To be perfectly honest, no. I don’t think he did a great job last time around, and I don’t think he’ll do much better this time around. BUT – if my options are a so-so former governor who proved that he can run the state without destroying it versus a man who fled Washington while under investigation for ethics violations and who obviously cannot make a sound financial decision to save his life…guess which one I’m going to pick?

 

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 12, 2010

Voters Are Stupid

I’m going to go ahead and voice a contentious opinion: Voters are stupid.

Not you, dear reader. By reading this blog, you have proven that you actually care about the issues at hand, that you bother to actually research the utterances of our candidates rather than taking them at face value, and that you actually value the idea of being an informed voter. Congratulations.

But, for the most part, voters are stupid.

I could support that statement by citing a recent poll showing that Nathan Deal has now pulled 9 points ahead of Roy Barnes – despite the fact that Deal left Congress while under investigation for using his elected position to protect a no-bid contract that his family business has enjoyed with the state of Georgia; despite the fact that Deal is facing financial insolvency due to his own sheer fiscal stupidity; despite the fact that Deal’s taxes make absolutely zero sense to anyone who has ever filed their own taxes; despite the fact that Deal has had to amend his financial disclosures twice because, regardless of what his ads claim, he just can’t get it right the first time; despite the fact that Deal has lied repeatedly to cover his own past transgressions.

But I won’t.

Instead, I will support that statement by pointing to the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Both parties are guilty of it – while I am admittedly a Democrat, I do not turn a blind eye to my own party’s many transgressions (I just think that their transgressions are ever so slightly less repulsive than those of the Republican Party). Much as I would like to believe that our politicians run negative campaigns just for the sheer fun of it, I know that this is not true. Politicians run negative, non-issue campaigns because they work. And they work because voters are, by and large, stupid.

We have apparently arrived a time when the average voter is willing to believe anything they see on TV. If the candidate of their party said it, clearly it must be true. Surely there is no need to bother to do research to verify the claims of your candidate. If the TV says so, that’s good enough.

This is why 18% of Americans now believe that Obama is a Muslim, despite the well documented fact that he is indeed a Christian (does no one remember his crazy Christian pastor?). This is why 27% of Americans believe that Obama was probably not born in the United States, despite the fact that he has produced a valid Hawaii birth certificate. Then again, I’m certain that polls would show that at least 10% Americans also don’t think Hawaii is actually in America. After all, there are some pretty sad statistics out there regarding what American voters don’t know. For example, one poll revealed that 26% of Americans don’t know which country the U.S. won its independence from.

The sad fact is that Americans as a whole seem uniquely unable to focus on the issues that are actually important. Consider all that you’ve heard in the news about the mid-term elections. I keep hearing about Christine O’Donnell being a witch, a South Carolina Senate candidate who smacked a camera, a New York gubernatorial candidate forwarding pictures of women having sex with horses, a California gubernatorial candidate who employed illegal immigrants while campaigning on immigration reform, a Democratic candidate who has been accused of showing porn to a college student…but I hear very little about any real issues. And that little which I do hear is so couched in partisan rhetoric that even issues-based campaigns cannot ever be relied upon.

We live in a country in which the candidate with the greatest name recognition usually wins, and if there isn’t a candidate with name recognition then the candidate listed first on the ballot wins. We live in a country in which the news is determined by ratings rather than fact, and what creates higher ratings than scandal, smear campaigns, and dirty laundry?

This is the fault of our media, yes, but it is also the fault of stupid American voters. Voters fail to hold our politicians, our media outlets, and our candidates responsible for what they say on air. We don’t even know when we’ve been lied to anymore because it just seems like too much effort to bother digging out the truth.

I do not ask that you take my word for anything – there is, after all, a reason that I bother putting links into these posts. I write in this blog because I feel obligated to investigate the truth behind our politicians claims. I ask that you do the same. Regardless of your party affiliation, you have a responsibility to ensure that you hold your representatives accountable for what they say and do. Perhaps if we stop believing the lies that political candidates spoon-feed us, they might actually bother telling the truth.

 

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