Posted: 6:00 am Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The ‘scheduling problem’ that led Nathan Deal’s aides to contact ethics chief 

By Greg Bluestein

The now-famous memo penned by former ethics head Holly LaBerge’s offers an idea of what Gov. Nathan Deal’s aides said to her ahead of a major hearing. But a lingering question is why  Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, and Ryan Teague, his executive counsel, reached out instead of a campaign attorney.

Deal told us in an interview that his staff needed to get details of an upcoming ethics hearing “so they could plan our schedule.” It was logistical, he said, and non-threatening. His office sought to reinforce that message with a more detailed timeline of what led to the contact.

LaBerge said in the memo she received the texts on July 17, 2012 – days before the governor was headed to Switzerland for a trade mission. Why would Deal’s aides have to plan his schedule if they already knew he was headed overseas?

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the texts were sent with that trip in mind. Said Robinson:

“The texts were sent on a Tuesday and the governor was leaving on the Sunday. If we had a settlement, Holly was insisting on a personal check from Gov. Deal that he would have to write. If we were going to do that, and he was overseas, we needed to figure that out. He also would have had to sign the order. That’s why we were under a time crunch. That’s why we desperately needed the executive director to call our campaign attorneys back and work with them.”

As to why Riley, the governor’s top aide, sent the text and not a lower-level aide associated with his campaign, Robinson added this:

“This scenario is exactly why there was contact. We had to know what was coming down because we would have had a scheduling problem.”

***

A tipster sent us this screen grab from Dale Russell’s interview with LaBerge that indicates that the check the campaign sent to the ethics commission, for the $3,350 in technical violations, didn’t need his hand-written signature. (We’re not sure who signed the check, and the campaign didn’t immediately see, but that signature looks different than his usual John Hancock, which we’ve included below.)

Deal check

Deal signature

Update: Deal’s flak, Brian Robinson, clarifies that the signature wasn’t specifically required for the check, but for a consent agreement on the fees. The check, he said, could come up to 30 days later. The above check, he said, is a cashier’s check from Deal’s account with his wife Sandra.

Update Two: Now we are being told by Deal’s office that the above check was torn up and never cashed.

 

197 comments
Historyfan
Historyfan

Trade mission to Switzerland? Sure.

MauriceAtkinson
MauriceAtkinson

and we wonder why his polling is so dismal.  people don't hate Deal and love Carter, people just want someone to be honest with them as opposed to always making excuses.

judgeknot
judgeknot

Wow!  A Swiss "trade mission" seems like a great occasion to visit money parked in secret bank accounts.  Would love to know if the governor or his associates while traveling on the taxpayers' dime visited any financial institutions, made any deposits, etc...

Armydawg
Armydawg

Nothing but campaign year hogwash.  All smoke, no fire.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

What will be the next "clarification?"


If you keep on trying to cover, you find yourself standing NAKED.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

Deal's "schedule" doesn't including helping the citizens of GA.  I didn't vote for him.  Roy Barnes is honest.  But Deal won cause a lot of you people voted for him.  Because Roy changed the flag from the confederate flag and he wouldn't arrange pensions for the GBI and GSP and teachers so they could retire earlier.  He was so honest.  I told him not to change the flag in his first term, but he had ethics.  I told him to promise the GBI and GSP and teachers anything but he had ethics.  So you guys voted f or Deal and you got this whole mess.  The economy has righted itself despite Deal.  He hasn't brought industry to GA because Atlanta and GA have always done well despite who is in the governor's chair.  Dump Deal.  

Charles50
Charles50

Yikes, caught with their pants down once again.  You meant o tell me that if a settlement was reached no one thought the Governor would be good for the money when he returned from his overseas trip?  I don't even think that's how things work.  You don't necessarily reach a settlement at 2:00 and expect a check handed over at 2:10.  And again, we are talking about the Governor.

honested
honested

And Today's Spin Is:

Why is this coming out just now before the election?

Well the answer is obvious, the efforts to keep the truth hidden forever were bound to fail. The coverup has been going on for years with ENORMOUS costs passed on to the taxpayers.

A better question is why not be HONEST in the first place?

MissDaisyCook
MissDaisyCook

The timing of this thing; hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?
Holly LaBerge's attorney is a BIG Jason Carter supporter, who's firm is hosting a fundraiser for Carter; hmmmmmmmmmmmm?
The same ethics panel that is claiming harassment found a violation and levied a fine; case closed; hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

shameful
shameful

My question is why is this just coming to light and was not mentioned before, during the ethics hoopla several months ago. Politics, just status quo. A political move by the Dems, with timing and I am sure there will be more.

As for Deal himself, I have yet to hear or see proof he did anything wrong, contrary to nam51 and his liberal folks.

As for checks and balances, what did Jimmy Carter give or even do, for the state when he was occupying the office of Governor? Nothing! The absolute worst Governor in modern times and no need to go into his Presidency. Now comes baby faced grandson, with no real record in the state house to brag about. 

JaySly
JaySly

Deal and republican power brokers run this corrupt state---deal will get off with a slap on the wrist after his handlers cover up everything and threaten a bunch of people === book it!

nam51
nam51

Balderdash. Deal got away with a $3,000 fine when he should have faced much worse. His office intimidated the ethics folks. This, coupled with his complete failure in the February ice emergency, is why this Republican may well vote for Carter. (Man, writing that leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth; but Deal has not earned a second term.)


Maybe we need a the checks and balances that a Democratic governor would give to the Republican senate and house. 


It's not like we're going gangbusters anyway; unemployment just went up to 7.4 percent, we have potholes the size of a small car on our roads, we have an woeful, ineffective Child Protective services division, and no real plans to fix any of it. (Yes, I know Deal just authorized 100 new DFACS positions; but why now and not years ago?)


Repeat: Deal has done nothing to earn a second term. If he's out of line ethically, he needs to go.



MiltonMan
MiltonMan

AJC staff - bash tha bad guy Deal and just ignore the garbage coming out of the White House like giving illegal aliens free passes.  Heck, move some ot them here so they could vote for a democrat loser like Jason Carter and Mary Nunn.

Charles50
Charles50

@honested They can't really claim this is coming out just in time for the election.  The trial was just a couple of months ago.  If the Gov. and his minions had kept their mouths closed about what they did or didn't know it may not have come out at all.  But he's trying to play the "I'll pay the money but I don't admit any wrong doing game".  The problem is, he's not paying with HIS money.  

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@MissDaisyCook Miss Cook, Randy Evans firm (who represents Nathan Deal) are also big supporters of Jason Carter.  Does that mean they Randy is in on the conspiracy?

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@MissDaisyCook Yeah, the timing is suspect, but then there's really no good time for a corruption leak, is there? And LeBerge's attorney, and his firm, are also well known employment law "trial: attorneys, a group typically vilified by conservatives (until they need one anyway). So perhaps, it's all much ado about nothing . . . or perhaps it's not. 

SomebodySaid
SomebodySaid

@shameful The issue's not Democratic or Republican. It's not left or right. It's right or wrong. Legal or Illegal. Deal's a petty crook and not even a very good one.

JackClemens
JackClemens

@shameful So, an old timey crook is okay as long as he's not related to a guy to was governor 40 years ago. Got it.

td1234
td1234

@JaySly Deal's campaign was found not in compliance of the rules more than three years ago and paid a fine. A fine was all the commission had the power to level so Deal's campaign received the maximum punishment. 


Case closed. 

honested
honested

@MiltonMan 

Do you have a firm grasp of the difference between Federal and State Government?

tinala
tinala

MiltonMan, why is it when anyone who speaks against Deal and the Republicans, you people always try to bring the President in on any coversation. I don't think the President has anything to do with Deal and his ethics violation; however, the topic is not about the Whitehouse or illegal immigrants, this article is about Deal period. Stick to the subject matter and stop injecting your ignorance and stupidity.

td1234
td1234

@Charles50 These new allegations have nothing to do with the civil trail that just ended (and had nothing to do with the governor) but rather an attempt to go back to the original case against the governor in a political attempt to tie the two together and make it seem there was something going on that was not legal.  

SoGAVet
SoGAVet

As if!!! Why have three former members of the ethics commission staff prevailed if all this is "merely political."

It's coming to light now because the cases have been tried, the plaintiffs, and you and I as taxpayers are on the hook for more than $3 million for Deal's minions' misdeeds.

So just what were they trying to shut down?

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@td1234 @JaySly Deal's campaign engineered the removal of Stacey Kalberman and her investigator to prevent the issuing of subpoenas and the investigation in general.  Deal and his staff have interfered throughout the process.  Not even you can say with a strait face that this was any kind of real investigation.

td1234
td1234

@HueyMahl What were the penalties the commission could impose on anyone in 2011? 

td1234
td1234

@HueyMahl Is it or is it not the right of any governor in this state to appoint any and all people to executive positions within the state? Yes, the governor has that right and could have removed her from office at his pleasure. 

td1234
td1234

@Charles50 @td1234 I am not a progressive so I am not smoking anything nor do I want to make it legal for you to blow your brain out one puff at a time.  

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@td1234 @HueyMahl Based on the original charges, the penalties could have exceeded $75,000.  But based on the evidence the investigators thought they would discover, the violations could have been much more severe.


For example, there is one company Deal paid tens of thousands of dollars to.  It had no address, performed not activities for the campaign, and was run by Chris Riley's father. No subpoenas were issued to that company to see where the money went.

Marjorie777
Marjorie777

@td1234 @HueyMahl Actually, no, he can't, which is why the taxpayers are on the hook for the $3 million dollar payout to the whistleblowers he fired.


Funny that Deal only had to pay $3500 for his misdeeds, but taxpayers pay $3 million for his misdeeds. The game is rigged.


It was obvious before we elected him that Deal is about as corrupt as they come. And Georgians will probably  re-elect him, since he has an R beside his name, and get to see a sitting governor sent to prison by federal prosecutors.


I am so embarrassed to be from this state.

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@td1234 @HueyMahl


UMM, no.  I know I have called you a troll, but let's get serious for a second. You are putting forward facts that are simply incorrect.  That is what a troll does.  That is why I called you one.


This latest set of facts illustrate the point.  Yes, the Governor has the right to appoint people to executive positions.  And often he has the right to remove them at will.  But that is completely irrelevant to this situation.


The Ethics commission is intended to be, and is under the law, an independent agency (though it has arguably not been run that way).  Deal does not have the power to appoint the director, and he sure as heck does not have the power to remover her.  But he can put political pressure on the commission members who do, and he sure as heck can threaten the commission with the removal of rule making authority, like he did.  


If he did these things as part of a belief that it was better for Georgia, then that is fine.  But if he does these things BECAUSE HE IS TRYING TO INTERFERE WITH AN INVESTIGATION OF HIS ON CAMPAIGN, that is a big, big, problem.


Is that last statement really controversial??

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 @Charles50 re: 'nor do I want to make it legal for you to blow your brain out one puff at a time"


so you're for outlawing cigars and cigarettes?

td1234
td1234

@HueyMahl @td1234 So you are a Carter troll? Where is this documentation for your UNFOUNDED allegations? 


BTW: Who filed the original charge? Paid Democrat operative? Yes, we should believe every word a paid Democratic operative charges a Republican with in some trumped up technical charges. 

td1234
td1234

@HueyMahl @td1234 Technically you are correct that the executive can not be removed by the governor but rather by the commission that the majority is appointed my the governor (one each by the house and senate that are all republicans). The point is still valid. The position works at the will of the governor because the appointees are going to do what the governor wants them to do. 

spike79
spike79

@consumedconsumer @td1234 @Charles50 Sure wish they would outlaw them in bars.  Sure doesnt seem to hurt businesses in every state I've been to that has that law.  Go outside if you wanna inhale a bunch of smoke.

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer Those products do not blow your brain out over time. They just give you cancer and cause heart attacks.

honested
honested

@td1234 @HueyMahl 

Who intimidated the witnesses and the Ethics Chair?

A paid republican operative.

So what's your point?

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@td1234 @HueyMahl It is part of the publc record, if you care to look.  The allegations and the evidence found to date can be obtained from the Ethics Commission. The penalties are laid out in the statute and regulations.   I happen to have done my research.

td1234
td1234

@honested You just make up crap as you go along don't you? Where did intimidation come from? Telling a person that if they hurried up a process was in the best interest of their new agency (for which they were appointed by the governor and worked at the will of the same governor) is now intimidation? 


Intimidation would be for them to say if you did not see the case our way then you would lose your job. 


What happened is this case was nothing more then asking for a favor instead of issuing an order. 

td1234
td1234

@HueyMahl @td1234 You happen to be a paid political troll for the Democratic party or for Better Ga. 

coj
coj

@td1234 @honested Asking for favors must be a republican, conservative code for threatening subordinates.

honested
honested

@td1234 @HueyMahl 

What is your point?

Were you the last person to accept noots was guilty when he resigned?

Can you not READ?

HueyMahl
HueyMahl

@td1234 @HueyMahl Nope.  But I know a LOT about this case.  And I have not voted democrat in over 20 years.

td1234
td1234

@Charles50 There is a difference between truth and political spin in an election year. What I am hearing is political spin and not the whole story. 

Charles50
Charles50

@td1234 @Charles50 Truth stands on it's own always.  You can spin information.  And I'm sure that it's just killing you that this truth is coming out now.  The fact is, an opponent can spend a lot less time and money on a campaign if they sit back and let life happen.  Can't wait for the debates.