Posted: 9:05 am Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Third whistleblower suit filed against state ethics agency 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

030414 qualifying deal

House Speaker David Ralston is interviewed after signing up to run for re-election Monday morning at the state Capitol. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com


It appears that the troubles surrounding
the panel once known as the State Ethics Commission will continue to plague us. From the Fulton County Daily Report:

A man who has testified that he was ordered to alter and hide documents relating to a probe of Gov. Nathan Deal before being fired by the chief of Georgia’s ethics agency has filed a whistleblower suit against the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission and its executive secretary, Holly LaBerge.

The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court last week by the commission’s former media specialist, John Hair, is the third whistleblower action stemming from a dramatic shakeup at the agency in 2011, when its former director and her assistant were forced out in the midst of an investigation into Deal’s purported misuse of campaign funds.

***

You have to hand it to state Rep. Sam Moore, R-Macedonia. He’s not backing down. The freshman whose first crack at legislation cut to the heart of Georgia’s sex offender laws made these observations in a letter to constituents about his first days in office:

I sat starving and thirsty in the Ethics class I had a week ago last Friday, ignoring the free Coke provided by the Coca-Cola company sitting right in front of me.  I treat freebies like poison.

Get this: they have an entire room devoted to free food, only accessible to State House Reps. I do not partake.  A guy sits there and offers it to you all day long. I’m glad he has a job and he’s a great guy, but knowing that this entire room is sponsored by a business I may one day vote for/against makes me sick.

The “great guy” that Moore references is Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

***

For those of you who think presidential visits are banquets of spoon-fed information from the White House, this is the sum total of the official word on Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Atlanta today:

DAILY GUIDANCE FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In the morning, the Vice President will travel to Atlanta, Georgia.

At 1:00 PM, the Vice President will attend an event for Michelle Nunn at a private residence. This event is closed press.

Later, the Vice President will return to Washington, DC.

***

SB 377, one of two “religious liberty” bills considered by the Legislature this session, quietly expired on Crossover Day. In a press conference anticipating the defeat, a group of conservatives led by tea partyer Julianne Thompson announced a boycott of the hometown corporate interests they declared responsible – including Delta Air Lines, Coke, UPS, and Home Depot.

But this was the heart of their complaint, expressed by Thompson:

“Mostly we’re disappointed that we have a super-majority in the Georgia state Senate, and we’re one vote away from having a super-majority in the House, yet our Republican leadership is caving to the far-left radical agenda and to corporate lobbyists. That seems to be much more important to them than the people that got them elected.”

***

Now that Crossover Day is in the books, Gov. Nathan Deal is keen to remind lawmakers just which of their legislation bears his imprint. And one such bill is the Senate proposal calling for a review of Common Core standards.

Deal made clear Monday that his staff played a direct role in drafting the legislation, which he views as a “very good compromise bill that allows us to go forward and doesn’t take the rug out from teachers.”

Deal and his predecessor, Sonny Perdue, were early supporters of the Common Core educational standards. But Deal asked the state Board of Education to review the state’s participation in the program last year amid unrest from critics who viewed the program as part of a federal takeover of sacred education rights. This legislation would essentially codify that review.

When it’s completed, Deal said, “we think that we will have a measurement tool that will be appropriate. That’s really what’s important. We want to make sure that the rigor is included in those standards and that we are advancing our students to the degree that is possible.”

With 10 days left in the session, much can happen. And Deal has a message for lawmakers eager to tinker with the plan:

“I’ll simply watch and see if any changes of real significance occur in that time. The format is one we can all be satisfied with.”

***

A sign that Common Core has emerged as a dividing line in the superintendent’s race:  Republican educator Kira Willis said the legislation referenced above is a “huge mistake for our students” due to language she fears could force the state to abandon standardized tests.

“You’re talking about International Baccalaureate testing, ACT and SAT testing,” she said. “If we get rid of any of that, we’re hurting our kids.”

***

Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel picked up the endorsement of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List on Tuesday. It’s the fund’s first pick for a Senate candidate in this election cycle.

Fund president Marjorie Dannenfelser said she was impressed by Handel’s ability to “speak to the errors of abortion-centered feminism and one of its chief advocates, Michelle Nunn.”

SBA List spent $1.5 million on outside advertising in the 2012 cycle. The endorsement also provides another chance for Handel to talk about her sparring with Planned Parenthood and some national anti-abortion cover as the no-exceptions Georgia Right to Life already endorsed Paul Broun.

***

State Rep. Ed Lindsey journeyed down from the House chamber to qualify for a competitive U.S. House seat. The Atlanta Republican faces at least three well-known rivals in his bid to replace Rep. Phil Gingrey, who qualified Monday for the Senate contest.

He said what distinguishes him from his rivals is that “I actually have a record of accomplishment.”

“I’ve worked real hard here to show I have the patience to listen, the strength to lead, the wisdom to know how to negotiate without compromising my principals and perhaps the most importantly, the courage to stay the course when times get rough.”

43 comments
Jke
Jke

Let's get the investigation started and let's get it done.  Nothing to it but a bad boss with bad judgment and mad as hell former employees fired from their jobs.          

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

These people like Moore and McKoon rail on about the 'corruption' of legislators receiving a lavish meal at some top of the line restaurant or getting a free soft drink during the session, expecting us--we the sheeple--to say, "finally someone is doing something about corruption in the state government," when nothing could be farther from the truth. It is smoke and mirrors to divert us from the real and insidious corruption that permeates governments everywhere.

Senator Blowhard gets elected from Podunk, Ga, and is assigned to the Highway and roads Committee. Viola, next we hear that one of his business partners has decided to start a concrete/paving company, which strangely enough, soon gets a $$million paving contract for state roads. His son-in-law, just out of Law School after barely eking out a C average finds himself recruited by silk stocking law firms for a six figure salary, a law firm, coincidentally enough that does legal work for the state, and is always ready to take on more work, if it just happens to come its way.  Mrs. Blowhard's name suddenly appears on the letterhead of some large bank as the newly promoted Vice President, a bank that coincidentally enough would love to handle the transactions and deposits of $$millions of state money. The daughter of the honorable Mr and Mrs Blowhard is hired by one of our large public utilities as a 'legislative liaison,' while another crony lands an executive position with one of the large insurance companies that will be bidding on contracts for state employees. These corporations can now give the maximum to Senator Blowhard in each election cycle, although he runs unopposed, because we know that corporations are only interested in seeing we have good, honest government officials like Senator Blowhard working for us. Meanwhile the good senator can proclaim his integrity and dedication to verity, because he doesn't take free soft drinks, and only sits with arthur blank in the luxury box because it would be, well, rude not to.

honested
honested

Coke, coke bottled water and peanuts.

You can't go into a legislators office at the Capitol here (or into a Georgia legislators office in DC) without being offered those items by a cheerful staffer.


Let's see if moore is up to the job the next time a certain monopoly utility brings it's power to bear. If so, he will be the first from the wrong wing.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

Where there is smoke there is usually fire. With all this coming about in the ethics complaints against Deal and now three whistleblower suits there has got to be something there. I do wish we could get some answers now and not two days before the election. Isn't the FBI also investigating our crooked governor? Let's speed this process up and get some answers before the Georgians who don't pay attention re-elect this crook for four more years.

td1234
td1234

If you do not like Deal then the only chance to send him to retirement is in the primary by voting with the Teachers and state employees for Dr Barge. 


If you are unwilling to crossover then Deal will have 4 more years as Governor. Carter has almost zero chance of beating Deal in a general election in Georgia this year. The Democratic party knows it but refuses to tell the rank and file members. 

TrueBlueDem
TrueBlueDem

Coca-Cola has been providing free Coke products for years to ALL the State Capitol offices. This has got to amount to tens of thousands of dollars each year. Yet Coca-Cola does not report these gifts as 'in-kind' political contributions, which I believe they should be called. They are freebies given to politicians to incur political favor. Maybe Sam Moore can look into this secret donation practice by Coca-Cola.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Centrist: "Recycling"? It was never finished by those who were fired due to their research!


Moore has it right. No gifts . No questions. No graft! No problem with enforcement!



" a group of conservatives led by tea partyer Julianne Thompson announced a boycott of the hometown corporate interests they declared responsible – including Delta Air Lines, Coke, UPS, and Home Depot."

Good! The lines won't be so long! Besides, don't the TPer's use their brooms to travel?

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

No surprise that Democrats are recylcing the ethics issue against Deal in an election year.  It is their only hope - with very little chance of political success.

RomeGaGuy
RomeGaGuy

Sam Moore isn't from Kennesaw

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@NOlongerRepublican From the Fulton Co. "Daily Report:"  

Former Executive Secretary Stacey Kalberman and her onetime deputy Sherilyn Streicker, both attorneys, filed separate suits in 2012 asserting that they had been targeted for retaliation after drawing up subpoenas as part of the Deal investigation.

His (Hair's) attorney, Worth, declined to discuss the case in more detail, noting that she is preparing for the March 31 trial date set for Kalberman's suit.

Unless olens can file motions delaying these proceedings and utilize other delaying tactics, we should start to see the truth come out within a month or two.This could get interesting, as olens, who is responsible for representing the ethics commission in the matter, is also standing for reelection. Does he obstruct the proceedings through objections, motions, delays which will appear as if he does not want the truth about the gubner revealed, or does he let the trial proceed smoothly and the chips fall where they may? If there is indeed a dirty deal at work here, will olens allow his political aspirations to go into the toilet just to cover up a dirty deal?

anothercomment
anothercomment

Wrong! Deal is going down! Jason Carter will be Gov. And business interest swill shift funding to him and Michelle Nunn after

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

And Barge has even less chance of Carter in displacing the incumbent Governor.  Pennington will probably outvote Barge in the Republican primary, but their combined vote is not likely to even force a runoff.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Agree.  Just like unions make "in-kind" unreported contributions of phone banks, emails, leaflets, get out the vote door to door campaigns and use of their offices/ personnel on the backs of forced members and agency shop fees. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The ethics probe was closed and a minor penalty paid.  It was some Democrats in the office that refused to let it go, and are now filing lawsuits for personal and political gain. 

Charles50
Charles50

@The_Centrist  Except that this issue has come up EVERY year he's been in office and even before he was elected.  It's something that needs to be done until all of the facts are known.

CharlesHendrix
CharlesHendrix

@The_Centrist  Keep dreaming and repeatedly posting your rhetoric. I wonder if you will be able repeat new rhetoric you when Carter is elected........

TBS
TBS

@The_Centrist  

Hardly a Centrist cries about anything that doesn't put Republcans in a good light

Centrist huh?

bwhahahahahaaa

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Sad to say, he's from Cherokee - not sure which town, though.  But he's a perfect example of what happens when elections take place and no one but the true believers vote.

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234  I dislike Deal so much that I could crossover in the governor's race but it does not matter because Carter can not win. The demographic mix in a non presidential election does not add up for a democratic win in the state. Add to that the fact that the Republican nominee for Governor and Senator and all the outside groups are going to be running nothing but Carter and Nunn are in the pocket of Obama and Obamacare commercials in this state and the overwhelming majority of conservative voters are going to come out in force and vote straight Republican party tickets. 


There are not any national groups claiming Carter or Nunn have a chance (unless a Republican has a Todd Akin moment). That is all the hopes and prayers Democrats have at winning. 

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist  You believe that all teachers and state employees are Democrats and that is why you can not see Barge winning the primary. They are not all Democrats and they are angry. There are 650,000 Teachers, state employees and retirees affected by the insurance changes that Deal had DCH do. Deal received 391,038 votes to win the primary 4 years ago. 45% turnout of these angry public servants is all it would take to send Deal into retirement.  

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@The_Centrist  Wrong again. Barge will provide a decent challenge, Pennington not so much. But I don't think Barge will beat Deal unless we finally get some real tangible answers on his crooked ways. I could see Barge winning if Deal is indicted, which he could be...

Shar1
Shar1

@The_Centrist The "ethics probe" you mention was a whitewash job.  Our state has the most lax ethics laws in the country, and our governor was ranked the most ethically compromised out of all 50 governors.  Frankly, it's hard to get to the bottom of a list of corrupt politicians, but Nathan Deal is there, with the connivance of the nonfunctional and highly complicit state ethics board.  


I realize that GW Bush's policy of lying brazenly and often enough made some voters accept the lie as truth worked all too often.  But there is no getting away from the ethical cancer that is eating the foundations of this state, nor the fact that Deal is a very dirty politician. 

td1234
td1234

@CharlesHendrix @The_Centrist  I do not like Deal but Carter can not win. Please give us all a winning formula for Carter? None of the national pundits nor the DNC can come up with a viable formula. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

My secular and pro-choice stances along with support for "Buffet rule" tax rates don't put Republicans in a good light.  I will vote for Michelle Nunn before Broun or Handel, and will oppose Attorney General Olens when he runs for Governor in 4 years.  But none of that is enough for hard left wing partisans.

anothercomment
anothercomment

I understand that this nutcase is going to be voted out in May. Since he wanted to allow people on the sex offenders list to loiter next to schools and parks.

Palatin
Palatin

Stupid is as Stupid does

Charles50
Charles50

@td1234 @honested  Grown the economy?  Have you looked at our unemployment numbers?  Do you know what kind of jobs are flourishing in this state?  


Do you remember that John Oxendine was considered a shoo in last time, but thanks to stories from the AJC and other media outlets about the "gifts" he received his popularity sank like an anchor.  In comes Deal and Handel.  The GA GOP is not going to stop dragging their knuckles long enough to elect a woman.  Instead we ended up with Let's Make a Deal.  Which is exactly what they did.  Notice how his financial problems disappeared.

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234  Deal makes the same claims about the Georgia economy as Obama makes about the national economy. Most people are to busy living life or to stupid to check the facts and know that they are both lying. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

'grown the economy' for who?

What value is there in 'keeping taxes low' when it obviously prevents adequate funding of necessary Government functions?

How's that magic 'charter amendment' workin' as far as improving educational output?

Yep, those wrong wingers have got 'feeling' down as well as voting their 'feelings'

When do they learn to think?

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234  Besides the Teachers and state employees most other conservatives in this state believe Deal has done a good job. He has grown the economy, kept taxes low, cut government spending and placed the Charter school amendment, no common core and no abortion paid for by tax payer money. They are not into the day to day running the government game and they do dislike Obama. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Thanks td123456789,

It's nice to know that extreme wrong wingers will vote against their own best interest to feed their misplaced antagonism against the President!

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist  They are not even analysing the primary and assuming that Deal has no problem.  

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Somehow the professional political pundits are missing your analysis, and predict Deal will easily win re-election.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@td1234 @The_Centrist  You are correct TD. Teachers in Georgia are FAR from being all Democrats. In fact the majority in suburban ATL and the rest of Georgia are die hard Repubs. They will vote for Dr. Barge in May and hopefully that will be enough to send Deal packing. If not I am hoping they will switch over in November and elect Jason Carter since Deal has been EXTREMELY bad for teachers and education in Georgia.

honested
honested

@td1234 @The_Centrist 

td123456789 and centrist of some dark galaxy,

Do you guys have a count on the current crackpot vote in Georgia?

Most polling groups tend to believe it is diminishing, but your blind support of whoever is on the farthest, unelectable wrong wing makes me believe you have some inside scoop.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

We'll see in 2 months about our predictions. 

Deal is not subject to the lawsuits/investigation - other parties.  He is being asked to testify in the typical legal shotgun effort, and has said he has no direct knowledge of the internal events.  He is not likely to be compelled to testify.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist  

What part of the 'center' believes that CREW is discredited or 'left partisan'.

Are you under the delusion that the 'national review' is some basic information source for the average Georgian?

Shar1
Shar1

@The_Centrist Your partisan point of view makes it uncomfortable for you to look at indefensible facts - much easier to try to bundle them away as "all bogus" - on no evidence whatsoever.


A significant number of your fellow Georgians are more uncomfortable living with twisted, lying, self-serving people in government than they are in looking at facts.  The elections will show whether there are enough of them to vote out the corrupt, and the merits of the whistleblower's case will be decided in court.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

All bogus and based on discredited left partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) that posters here love to repeat.

anothercomment
anothercomment

Simply put all it takes is for people like me and everyone we know to come out and vote for C after and Nunn, along with everyone who opposes a sitting republican.

Charles50
Charles50

@The_Centrist  It's not good enough because you speak with forked tongue.  9 out of 10 stances that you take on these boards are always in line with the Repubs. 

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