Posted: 5:50 pm Monday, July 14th, 2014

Why Holly LaBerge went public 

By Greg Bluestein

At the state Capitol, the question on every set of lips is something like this: Why has Holly LaBerge, executive secretary of the beleaguered state ethics commission, come forward at this moment with such explosive information.

We have the answer.

But first, here’s your lede, from our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

The head of the state ethics commission said she was threatened and pressured by Gov. Nathan Deal’s office in 2012 to “make the complaints” against the governor “go away,” according to a memo obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While on vacation in July 2012, state ethics commission director Holly LaBerge says she received a call from Ryan Teague, Deal’s chief counsel, and texts from chief of staff Chris Riley.

LaBerge claims Teague said, “It was not in the agency’s best interest for these cases to go to a hearing … nor was it in their best political interest either.”

Days later, the commission voted during a public hearing to dismiss the major complaints against Deal, who agreed to pay $3,350 in fees for technical defects to his campaign disclosures.

Prior to that decision, LaBerge’s predecessor and her No. 2 had been sacked when they drew up subpoena documents aimed at the 2010 Deal campaign.

The state has agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle three lawsuits, and a threatened fourth, brought by former commission director Stacey Kalberman, her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, and two other employees who claimed they were fired or forced from office over the Deal investigation or its aftermath.

Last Friday, a letter from LaBerge’s attorney, Lee Parks, was sent to the state ethics commission, explaining why LaBerge was going public. Parks wrote that LaBerge feared that another purge was underway, and she was the target.

You can read the entire letter here, but this is the gist:

“Specifically, Ms. Laberge has given an interview to Dale Russell of Fox 5 News Atlanta in order to take a public stand against the fraud, waste and abuse that has occurred in connection with the trial and settlement of the litigation and threats of litigation that were spawned by the Commission’s handling of the Deal Complaints.

“It …was compounded by the Commission’s inappropriate direction prohibiting Ms. LaBerge from taking disciplinary action against Obertein-Murray earlier in her employment despite well-documented performance duties.

“Given the repeated inaction of the Commission and the State following her complaints, Ms. LaBerge felt compelled to provide the interview to the media in order to expose clear waste involved in the exorbitant settlement of these claims. Ms. LaBerge has acted appropriately throughout her tenure with the Commission and during its handling of the Deal Complaints.

“Yet she is now being isolated in her duties at the Commission and she appears to be the sole target of an unorthodox performance audit of the Commission that is focused on the Deal Complaints. We again remind you that Ms. LaBerge’s employment is protected by her whistleblowing actions and ask the Commission to act in accordance with the law moving forward.”

100 comments
Bernie31
Bernie31

Bottom Line...Holly was fed up with the school Yard Bully Nathan Deal and decided to Stand UP like a Man and Fight Back! 

Fought she Did, and WON! 

The moral of the story when you are Bullied make sure the Bully leaves with a Bloody Nose!

Blood is everywhere you look now! 

The Emperor has No clothes!

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

Is there anyone out there who is willing to defend our Governor against these scurrilous ethics charges? The silence is deafening.  I thought so...................

notagain
notagain

TD nay have the chickungunya disease.

Worst President since ww11 would make a chickun a  good roost..

honested
honested

Ok so far the count seems to be Citizens of Georgia 100, tiny dog and fake centrist 0.

Just carry this momentum into November and free ourselves from a criminal incursion!!!

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

The U.S. Attorney will convene a grand jury tomorrow AM to provide evidence for indicting the current Governor of Georgia.  He will be indicted before November.  Watch out 'cause here comes Jason!

dreluv
dreluv

It a shame some of these republican is defending this crook our tax money will have to pay for his lawsuit..What does President Obama have to do with Nathan Deal violation..Some of you republican does not have a life going to keep saying Obama name until you crock..Nathan Deal need to be in jail just like Jesse Jackson Jr, Ray Nagan, KirPatrick..Nathan Deal is the worst governor in this country.

MI550
MI550

Peach Pundit blog is offering money for any revealing photos or information about her

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

Folks, I think that I have a solution to this whole mess.  Let's lock Nathan Deal in a car with the windows rolled up on a scorching afternoon. 

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

The Deal Administration is working as we speak to have LaBerge fired.  They will replace her with another nice-looking, buxom, young woman who will be more than happy to do whatever Deal wants her to do.  I believe that we have seen this before, right?   

td1234
td1234

Voting for a morally bankrupt Governor or giving the worst President since WW2 a victory on election night to spin the failures of his administration. 


The vote is not even a hard consideration. 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Jason " Empty Suit " Carter will have a field day trying to talk about how honest he is while hoping none of his sleazy contributors turn out to be felons like the one holding the fund raisers for Nunn. A real problem for Democrats is that they have a lot of felons in their party.

crankee-yankee
crankee-yankee

@td1234 @@Ralph-43

Deal isn't stupid, just incredibly sleazy, there are now enough questions that reasonable doubt could be postulated by the defense should the Feds indict.

DS
DS

Hmm, I wonder what's going on here? 

LaBerge testified at the Kalberman trial that people from the governor's office contacted her in mid-May 2011, before Kalberman was forced out. Her testimony convinced the jury that Kalberman was forced out to stymie the ethics investigation of Nathan Deal. And it convinced anyone who cared to listen that Deal's hands are not clean in this matter.

So why is LaBerge coming forward with new information now? It seems like this thing might be about to blow up.

This much we do know, from sworn testimony at the Kalberman trial: Kalberman described an ethics investigation of Deal to the commission in early May 2011. A few weeks later, LaBerge was contacted by the governor's office to see if she would be interested in Kalberman's job. In early June, Kalberman was forced out. Once in place, LaBerge shut down the investigation, gave Deal a slap on the wrist, and said that he "owed her one." A staffer also testified that she told him to destroy evidence. When he refused, she fired him.

Now LaBerge is telling us that she was threatened by Deal's office if the ethics complaints were not resolved prior to a public hearing. That's twice that Deal has been caught messing with the ethics commission.

And we have further proof that Nathan Deal has lied. Remember this? "This settlement involves an internal dispute between former employees and former commissioners of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which is a body that operates independently of elected officials. There is no connection to the governor's office."

Clearly, Nathan Deal is dishonest and corrupt.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

We already know that this is the worst governor and the most unethical governor in the United States: 

http://www.citizensforethics.org/worst-governors-in-America.  We know he stuffed $25 million in his pocket from Blue Cross Health Insurance to illegally drop United Health Insurance from the state contract without competitive bidding.  Laughably, United agreed to pay Deal $35 million to get it back but he kept the money and reneged on the deal.  This guy should be in prison already and probably will be, eventually.  Do not vote for a future convict for governor.  It is bad for our image and, when they haul him off in cuffs, who will run the state?  That's right - it will be even worse.  Think ahead.  Jason Carter is a well trained lawyer and has proven to be honest and intelligent.  Let's get this state ship righted - lock up the criminals - and get on with important business.



td1234
td1234

@dreluv I will be more than happy to send him to jail right after you send Holder to jail for being in contempt of Congress. 

Shar1
Shar1

@td1234 The worst president since WW2 is GW Bush.  There is no debate on that.  He bumped Nixon and Ford off the bottom step, and is crowding the likes of Millard Fillmore and Warren G Harding for worst ever.  And your comparison of voting for Deal with what apparently is meant as an attack on Obama is not only irrelevant but verging on gibberish.

honested
honested

@td1234 

Nobody is advocating voting for deal or any relative of shrub bush.

What are you babbling about?

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@td1234   Last I heard, Jimmy Carter is in Plains.  Jason is his grandson.  Don't you read the news, sport?

NWGAL
NWGAL

It is a conspiracy against Deal. By fellow Republicans. Right.

JAWJA
JAWJA

@Infraredguy And I thought it was Kingston taking the dirty money. According to Perdue.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Infraredguy 

  A real problem for Democrats is that they have a lot of felons in their party.

Kenny Boy Lay says, "What?"

td1234
td1234

@crankee-yankee @Ralph-43 If the Feds indict him all he will do is blame it on an Obama appointee for something like opposing Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid and that will just endure him more the the Tea party types that voted against him in the primary. 

td1234
td1234

@DS Where is the criminal activity by Deal? If what you are saying is true then it looks like it was LaBerge that covered up an investigation and potentially lied under oath. 


Deal is morally bankrupt and this was a known fact before he was elected governor in 2010 but he still won by 10 points. It was known when he won the primary by 50 points. The citizens of Georgia do not care about ethics as long as the governor keeps their taxes low, brings more jobs to GA and keeps slapping Obama whenever possible. 

td1234
td1234

@Ralph-43 Damn those are so outlandish allegations that all one can do is laugh at the person uninformed enough to post them. There is no way in hell that the Feds would allow $25 or $35 MILLION transfer from a private company to an elected Governor. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @dreluv 

Attorney General Eric Holder is not now and has never been in 'contempt of Congress'.

Failure to comply with the childish whining of wrong wing rant media does not constitute 'Contempt of Congress'.

Do you realize that at this point (short of some incursion by an imaginary friend) your side LOSES?

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@td1234    Your boy Deal is in a hell of a fix and to take the attention away from him you keep chirping up with Obama and Holder.  Why don't you stay on topic, sport?  The issue here (as well as the subject of this article) is Nathan Deal.  Why don't you defend him rather than bring up a red herring? 

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@NWGAL   I believe that either Deal is lying or his staff have lied to him.  Either way, he will be indicted before November.  Also, I predict that the Ethics Commission will fire LaBerge and she will file a wrongful termination lawsuit and win a settlement of $1,800,000 which will be paid by the Georgia taxpayer.  Does all this sound familiar? 

NWGAL
NWGAL

Duke Cunningham says what? (We could keep this up for hours.)

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Correct, Deal on his worst day is still head and shoulder above Jason " Empty Suit " Carter who is still gathering sleazy money from his Grandpa's left wing friends.

DS
DS

@td1234 Where's the criminal activity? 

Arranging for a director, who's about to start an ethics investigation, to be forced out, then replacing her with a friendly puppet who will make the investigation go away. Then threatening the friendly puppet if she doesn't make the investigation go away fast enough.

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@td1234 can't defend Deal because he is undefensible.  I predict he will INDICTED BY NOVEMBER.   

td1234
td1234

@DS @td1234 And what crime is that exactly? State or Federal? 


This is an at will work state and these people in the high positions work at the will of the Governor. As stated in the memo above most if not all the power of this commission had been removed before Deal even entered office. 

td1234
td1234

@The_Real_Centrist @td1234 We do live in the United States of America and Obama is doing stuff like trying to force Georgia to expand Medicaid against the will of the majorities of its citizens? 

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@td1234   If Deal is morally bankrupt, then let's get rid of him in November.  Easy Peasey. 

JAWJA
JAWJA

@td1234 @The_Real_Centrist I understand the majority of Georgians are for the Medicaid expansion. But, then, I usually see things differently than you. It must be a great burden to carry around so much hate.

PatrickMonahan
PatrickMonahan

@td1234 @The_Real_Centrist  "Force to expand"  "against the will of the majorities of its citizens" - since when do you speak for the "majorities" (btw its majority). Medicaid expansion is necessary for many older people and the funding is coming from the federal govt. Politicizing every single initiative that comes out of the White House is killing Americans. I'm a lifelong Republican and I know that. Quit watching Fox News and read the CDC reports. 

td1234
td1234

@The_Real_Centrist @td1234 You had your chance to put in a moral leader but I am sure you did not go and vote in the Republican primary so now you will have to deal with Deal for 4 more years because Georgia is not going to put another Carter in office. 

td1234
td1234

@PatrickMonahan Insurance for the elderly is provided by Medicare and not Medicaid (except for the very poor elderly). There is absolutely nothing in the current expansion plans that would help or hurt the elderly. 

EastCobbRINO
EastCobbRINO

@PatrickMonahan @td1234 @The_Real_Centrist 

Preach on brother. From a high earning white middle aged male in Cobb County.

Considering how Deal left Congress, should any of this surprise us? Difference is he had no control over the federal ethics commission they way he believes he could assert control over the state ethics commission.

The_Real_Centrist
The_Real_Centrist

@td1234 I voted for David Pennington in the primary, and he is right on with his negative assessment of Deal's moral character.  Pennington will be redeemed.

honested
honested

@td1234 @PatrickMonahan 

I see that the pathetic person called 'north atlanta' thinks your childish position is defensible.

I'm glad NOBODY else does.